Drummer Marko Djordjevic has written a very beautiful ballad in "Don't Be Sad." The melody is a simple plea. After an introductory guitar harmonic strum, trombonist Elliot Mason carries most of the water on the piece. (For the trombone curious, Eliot Mason sounds similar to Garnett Brown.) Djordjevic uses plenty of brush and cymbal to help him along. Elliot's brother Brad joins him, on what sounds like flugelhorn, for some of the pensive theme. Apparently these guys come as a team. Bassist Matt Pavolka and guitarist Lionel Loueke add some lush acoustic support. "Don't Be Sad" is an effective soothing agent that is sure to give you some of the understanding and support you need through a difficult time. But you will like this music even if you are happy.
Serbian drummer Marko Djordjevic has been leading the Sveti fusion group in some form or another since the early 1990s. Djordjevic is a busy guy with the sticks. That describes his drumming, not his gig load. This guy gets after it. He is all over the kit and probably on other things too. The main melodic thrust of "Dundjer" is supplied by the brothers Elliot and Brad Mason. They are advertised as great individual musicians but even better as a team. One listen to their horn interplay will verify such claims. There is a bit of early Miles Davis fusion on display in the guitar riffs, chords and spatial quality. (Think A Tribute to Jack Johnson
for the guitar; think Billy Cobham's Crosswinds
for the drumming and a few horn and guitar riffs.) Despite the heritage of most of the musicians, the tune has fewer Eastern European stylistic influences than one might expect. Due to the sound blast, I am not quite sure all of the above listed musicians perform on this cut, but whoever is playing is virtuosic. Sveti produces a compelling sound. Anyone interested in progressive jazz, jazz-fusion or world music will find the band's work worthy of shelf space or a few megabytes of download capacity.
February 20, 2009 · 1 comment
A little research has informed me that "Cocek" is a form of Serbian folk music closely associated with dance. To many it is tied to Gypsy brass music and belly dancing. There are sections of this tune, as played by guitarist Nenad Gajin and a fine group of musicians, where it would be very easy to dance. In fact, it would be almost impossible not to get out of your chair. But there are other parts where it might be better to sit it out and try to drink everything in. I suspect one could get drunk very fast listening to this. I guess that's part of the tradition as well. The Eastern European ethnic sounds are immediately alluring. The fusion elements added to those strains carry the music a great distance beyond its original borders. Saxophonist Slobodan Trkulja, Gajin, and keyboardist Aleksander Banjac each takes an outstanding turn. I am thrilled to have been introduced to this exciting fare, which is a boiling pot of folk music mixed with jazz-rock spices. You will also like the taste, perhaps with a hard drink or two.
Fusion fans should drop what they are doing this very moment and obtain guitarist Nenad Gajin's Kec
. I won't mind if you don't read another word of this review. Go get this music now! I will wait. Calling my bluff? OK. The title cut is the album in microcosm. The music is part Serbian folk, city funk, R&B and fiery jazz-rock fusion. I don't know enough about Serbian folk music to tell you what particular style Gajin and his band incorporate into this powerful mix. But I could easily envision a whole culture digging this swinging performance. From what I have read, Serbian folk music fuses its tradition with modern music. This quartet continues that fusion at very high temperatures and throws in everything and the kitchen sink. This music can barely contain its own dramatic electric riffs, outrageous unison playing, drumming up your spine, and contagious themes. There are Mahavishnu-like sections, Billy Cobham Spectrum
-era sections, and even a nod to Coltrane. I think the short Cobham and Coltrane quasi-quotes were on purpose. And all of this is added to the infectious folk melodies. At times, Gajin sounds like Tommy Bolin. But he isn't the only player burning. Bassist Hadrien Feraud, the one musician I was familiar with before listening and the one whose name I can spell without triple-checking, is a major force on "Kec." He and Gajin engage in much of the unison playing previously mentioned, creating low-register funk assaults. Keyboardist Bojan Zulfikarpasic plays his ass off too. Drummer Mokhtar Samba is in your face from moment one. When people talk about the potential of world fusion, this is the type of music they have in mind. Only a protectionist would object. Now go out and grab a listen. OK?
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