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Album Review

Recorded in Austria, this set of nine Balkan folk songs has been ingeniously fused with jazz forms by Nenad Vasilic and his band. Recorded in Austria, this CD explores Serbian folk songs of Nenad's native Yugoslavia, cleverly adapting them to modern mainstream jazz. The risk the performer runs with an album like this is that it may become wearing to anyone other than those from the region where the music comes from. Creating arrangements that artfully and charmingly retain the flavor of the folk sound while adapting it to jazz figures, Nenad avoids having the result sound artificial and contrived. On "Ima Jedna Krcma u Planni," for example, the soprano sax of Klemens Pliem carries out the melody as traditionally played against the jazz compings of pianist Stefan Heckel and jazz drum breaks by Andjeklo Stupar. In contrast is "Zajdi, Zajdi," where Nenad's arco bass and then his flute produce one of the loveliest pieces on the album — — haunting, eerie, and expressive of the folk ways of the land from whence they came. "Zvijezda Tjera Mjeseca" brings to the mind's eye visions of swirling dancers in their traditional costumes cavorting to the sounds of this exotic-sounding tune. Most of the exotic comes from a highly charged but lyrical Pliem tenor sax played against the native instrument, the gotch. Nenad and his group are no newcomers to this kind of musical presentation. Two previous releases, Yougobasso and Acoustic Duo Live at Graz, undertook similar explorations of merging different musical art forms, including traditional folk, jazz, and classical. This latest album carries on the process to even greater heights. This recommended album is filled with music both absorbing and enticing.

Folk Songs, Vasilić Nenad Balkan Band
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