These words come from a quote about Laila Biali from Downbeat Magazine: “Shimmering … arrangements are lush, and Biali’s voice — spanning registers — is pure and warm. She’s also fearless on piano and, above else, in her imagination.”

She sounds like a jazz soldier, one who goes right into the field ready to play, and to play hard, true and strong. She does, but don’t let the term soldier jar you — Laila’s soldiering is warm and sensitively respectful of the layers of the genre that make up everything that is the essence of jazz.

The balance is grace. It is an essential of the music. To play it, you have to know it will make demands upon you that are reflective of those demands life makes. Awareness, readiness, and a kind of health that includes a honed mindfulness of creativity. There is a place for throwing some cavalier caution to the wind, too, and that means a sensibility of what it means to be captured by the spirit — to be skilled at trusting where you will go next, and being brave enough to take on whatever the next is going to be. That ability to be able to harness trust, to harness it as it relates to music and let it sometimes surprise, but at the same time always knowing that you have it in hand, is a special kind of Biali purity of liberated artistry.