New music from Rachel Grimes is always cause to sit up and take notice. The in-demand pianist, composer, arranger, and collaborator extraordinaire has been involved in numerous projects of late, but we’ve not been treated to a full-length album of her own compositions since 2015’s The Clearing, that is until now with the release of her splendid soundtrack to The Doctor From India by filmmaker Jeremy Frindel,a portrait of the life and work of Dr. Vasant Lad who first brought the ancient medical practice of Ayurveda from India to the west in the late 1970s. I confess to not having seen the film nor being familiar with Dr. Lad and his story, but having spent some time with the album, I can attest to the uplifting power and quietly dazzling beauty of the music it has inspired Grimes to compose and perform along with Scott Moore on violin, Jacob Duncan on saxophone & flute.
There is a bright, even playful quality to these pieces many of which are driven by galloping piano lines that suggest the workings of a keen mind and a narrative that moves at a brisk pace. The music dances sprightly in the borderlands where contrasting worlds meet – the timeless and the time-bound, the ancient and the modern. When the music does slow down, as on the meditative “The Art of Listening” followed by the wistful “Ancestral Home”, the beauty the trio conjures is breathtaking. Undoubtedly this score adds immeasurably to the film, but I would suggest the album stands quite well on its own as a deeply satisfying listening experience.