A striking debut by Recap, four young women percussionists of color : Deceptive Cadence The members of Recap, four young women of color from New Jersey, have built a mission of gender equity into their striking debut album.

Review

A young, all-women ensemble upends the percussion paradigm

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Percussion ensembles tend to be a guy thing - you know, dudes pounding on stuff. But here's something different.

(SOUNDBITE OF RECAP'S "FEAR / RELEASE")

CHANG: This is the percussion quartet called Recap. No guys in this group. It's made up of four young women of color from Rahway, N.J. They've just released their debut album, and our reviewer, NPR's Tom Huizenga, has been listening.

TOM HUIZENGA, BYLINE: Our story begins in elementary school, where Aline Vasques, Alexis Carter, Tiahna Sterling and Arlene Acevedo are all best friends. In middle school, they began studying percussion, continuing through high school and a special youth percussion program. Now at ages 19 and 20, they formed Recap and released "Count To Five," an outstanding debut album.

(SOUNDBITE OF RECAP'S "HAMMERS")

HUIZENGA: That's Recap's Tiahna Sterling on flute, with her colleagues on various sizes of drums. The music is by Allison Loggins-Hull, Sterling's flute professor at Montclair State University. All of the music on "Count To Five" is by women composers, and that's in line with the group's intention to show that, in the male-dominated world of percussion, women can pound just as mightily as men.

(SOUNDBITE OF RECAP'S "HEDERA")

HUIZENGA: The album is anchored by this mesmerizing work, "Hedera" by Lesley Flanigan. Recap, on bass drums and tom-toms, lays down a pulsating foundation. Over top, the composer's voice floats like pastel-colored clouds.

(SOUNDBITE OF RECAP'S "HEDERA")

HUIZENGA: Percussion isn't only about banging on drums. The album's title track by Angelica Negron sounds like you've opened up a dusty box of household items and memories. Playing cards are shuffled, bubble wrap squeezed, wine glasses are struck, and a harmonica repeats a single note.

(SOUNDBITE OF RECAP'S "COUNT TO FIVE")

HUIZENGA: Two recent Pulitzer-winning composers, Ellen Reid and Caroline Shaw, appear on "Count To Five." Ellen Reid's piece called "Fear / Release" twirls like a kaleidoscope of shiny metal.

(SOUNDBITE OF RECAP'S "FEAR / RELEASE")

HUIZENGA: Caroline Shaw collaborated on "Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown." The words are from an old 19th century hymn recorded by the likes of George Jones. But the song assumes a new identity when Recap takes to marimbas packed with subtle touches of strings and clarinet by The Transit Ensemble. Shaw keeps the old world feeling, but in this rendition, it feels more like an incantation than something you'd sing in church.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BY AND BY: I. WILL THERE BE ANY STARS IN MY CROWN")

RECAP: (Singing) Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown when at evening, the sun goeth down?

HUIZENGA: The members of Recap view themselves as role models for other young women interested in percussion. And now they're all off to college, but get this. None are studying percussion. Still, for the time being, they simply want to continue playing together, strengthening that long-standing bond of music among friends.

CHANG: The album is "Count To Five" by Recap, and our reviewer is NPR's Tom Huizenga.

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