Sunday, 6 September 2015

Love, Majamisty TriO, 2014

It's been a long time I have been writing about music - especially about jazz. Especially about European Jazz... I am not the same guy who started a music blog more than 3 years ago just to share what he likes with friends and followers. With joy or pain, experience is something good. Something necessary for everyone... I faced lots of opportunities to gain experience on my tight scheduled musical life. Concerts, festivals, editors, critics, managers, label owners, distributors, jazz clubs, jazzy cities... I was just a collector and listener at first, which made me follow labels and review the albums I had been listening to. Following musicians was something new after seeing some festivals from Europe. I started to learn a lot on what's going on at the backstage of everything. It led me to make interviews with the musicians and I even had many good friends among them whose albums are on my shelves. I can not say that everything I learned was joyful and interesting though. The main change -or let me say enlightment- came when I started to feel that most of the talents of European Jazz are performing their music without a well known label or a professional manager. Especially after the last Jazzahead, I now know that it's not just a feeling but a fact and I'm sure this is the case all around the world in general for unpopular music. So, from then on, I became more careful about jazz albums independently printed and distributed. You may have noticed this from some of my latest reviews. That is not an act of blind support for freelance; but instead, if some freelance musicians are playing as well as musicians distributed via big jazz labels, at least I can do something as a freelance music writer. The labels are waiting for managers to support the musicians before they support them and the managers are waiting for labels to support musicians before they support them. So if music writers join this deadlock chain too; then who will help to spread the word for heroes of good music?

Well, what is the reason for such a long and boring introduction to an album review? I wrote it, because I am again writing about a jazz album which is outside the big and well-known label-manager world. 

Serbian Jazz is taking my attraction more and more everyday. Majamisty TriO (Maja Alvanovic on piano, Ervin Malina on double bass and Istvan Cik on drums) is among the most successful bands from there nowadays as far as I could listen to two albums of them. It seems that after their interesting debut Mistyland, they decided to hit the European Jazz stage with the amazing Love in 2014. They played in Pizza Jazz Express London just a week ago and I am sure they will be widely known as time will pass. 

Love includes mostly the pianist Maja Alvanovic's compositions and I can assure you that these compositions will impress you deeply thanks to its progressive style and catchy melodies of Balkan influence forming the background for qualified and improvisational performances. The trio has been playing for almost 5 years and they sound really organic and complete. They used many different adds to their basic setting such as vocal, saxophone and percussion in order to increase their sonic depth but I feel like the more album they will release the more concentrated on the basic trio they will be in time. They control the tension in their music very well and this easily put them on the list of good piano trios. 

Thin Moon is mystic and tensional at the same time... A suspicious first impression of mine suddenly turned out to be a "wow" after listening to the great harmony of the trio and amazing main theme giving the main role to the piano. The ever-evolving-partitions of the keys, surprising tensional state and tempo make the first piece a very attractive one, pushing me to keep on listening to the whole album with a more concentrated mind.

A very motivated, dignified and cool bass line from the piano introduces the main theme of Suddenly Japan and gives the floor to the double bass accompanied by minimal strokes to the sides of the snare, consistent with the aura created initially. Well, in my humble opinion, this main theme is one of the most catchy compositions in last years of European Jazz. Although the title gives the clue of Japanese influence, I've heard a solid connection between the rhythm of this main theme and Balkan music. Especially Ervin Malina's performance on double bass is impressive. 

I think, Rain Dots starts with wind and not-too-heavy thunder sounds and gives place to the piano and percussion (by Uros Secerov) resembling to the rain drops touching to the ground. Aleksandra Drobac adds vocal support to this crystal-like performance which sometimes increases the tension with soft screamings. 

Chat with Gagarin inevitably reminds me of Esbjörn Svensson Trio with the trio's 1999 album called From Gagarin's Point of Fiew. Although this piece doesn't sound similar to the title track of that album, different than the others in the album Love, Chat with Gagarin feels like listening to E.S.T. -I think- since it is a bit more independent than local sounds compared to the other tracks. The main theme and the rhythm is simple but it becomes an elegant and complex-enough performance with groovy and improvisational style of Maja Alvanovic and qualified drum and bass departments of the Majamisty. You can better understand what I'm talking about by qualified, when you hear Istvan Cik's performance in the last part. 

Mustard Fields is like an ethnic jazz hit with its ballad-like vocal (by Maja Alvanovic and Aleksandra Drobac) and tenor/soprano saxophone performances as well as nordic touch from the guitar of Gisle Torvik. The tensional rise and falls - which is mostly driven by the saxophone of Bunford Gabor - in the piece is amazingly touchy. Although I used the term ethnic for the definition, I have to say that it has an international character too thanks to this much different styles from this much different instruments.

Coolah Trance smells like a latin influence in its first and last part. Once again, Istvan Cik shows a full-bodied performance and the bass lines of Ervin Malina are noteworthy. The improvisational part carries the piece to a totally different feeling in the middle and prevents the listener from falling down into a well-known monotonous feeling of some kind of latin jazz. 

Careless Moment is among the basic trio setting performances which lets us see how successfully they play together. Intimate and sharp rhythms of drums are followed by some sincere dialogues between the double bass and the piano. 

Little Cosy Keysy House is an interesting piece mostly for its psychedelic lyricless vocal ingredients from Aleksandra Drobac. It's not scat, it is not symmetric... It is like "Several Species of Small Fury Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict." The main theme carried by the trio is again catchy and it is based on evolving piano riffs. 

Bloomin' is an up tempo Aires-De-Cuba-like performance and starts with a high register bass performance accompanied by some energetic marching drums. It feels like watching a carnival on streets on a sunny day when suddenly some jazzy partitions touched to our ears. 

The title track is the last number and it starts with a consistent feeling with the concept: Soft and beautiful. Like love itself... With its increasing energy thanks to the choir-like vocal parts and pushy trumpet partitions by Damir Bacikin, the piece turns out to be a strong final and summary for the whole album.

The album is recorded by studio Fluid Noise in Novi Sad in 2013. The mixing belongs to Vladimir Moritz and the editing belongs to Valerijan Buila. Mastering is accomplished by Milan Nenin in LB Studio in Novi Sad. The overall sonic quality of the album is very successful. All nuances are audible and the locations of the instruments on the stage is very well defined.

The album is produced by Maja Alvanovic and Kosta Jevtic. The publishers are Mascom and Cosmic Sounds. 

For my part, I am looking forward to listening to them live as soon as possible. For those who feel the same, here is their always updated website for every news:

Lastly, I'd like to share two samples from youtube for the album but please do not forget to get the album in hard copy. Enjoy!

Suddenly Japan: 

Mustard Fields: