Here and There, Here and Everywhere
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The most striking thing about the present album of this duo is the skilled confluence of modernity and tradition. They play with sounds, creating, discovering, inventing them as they go along, in the true spirit of improvised contemporary urban jazz. And at the same time, they take generously from the lore of folk music and rural life. There’s a predominance of dance titles, which reflect the musicians’ fascination for rhythm: in the Moldavian Tatoo in B flat or Scholocho, an Armenian waltz or the more complex Bulgarian folk dance Zagora Tangle.
Geoff Warren’s flute playing on Zagora Tangle in 13/8 evidences most demanding breathing technique, as also on Stambul Express, on which an endlessly held single note is like the long whistle of a train speeding out into open spaces. The ten-finger guitarist from the Ukraine takes your breath away once again with his protean transformations, moving with ease and grace from the droning, supporting sounds of a tanpura, to another and yet another role… it’s a tabla! No, it’s a sitar! No, a sarod…! No, it is not a rôle but only the never yet invented guitar of the one and only Enver Izamilov.
“But Like I said,” Geoff told us, “ this is like the second generation of the Enver thing – because the first generation was…Here’s this guy from…you know? …And I’ve gotta learn his tunes…we go out and play. Okay, it’s fine. But – where do we go from there? So this is like taking it into the studio. It’s like going from rock to progressive rock and into these ‘concept numbers’ like this one. Enver just said “I’ve got this Chinese tune, what d’you want to do with it?” And all this stuff came out…”
Indeed, this wandering between past and present is most evident in the piece Colours of Satsumas. The C major pentatonic scale evokes melodies and airs of gracious Chinese opera. And then suddenly, the music’s up tempo – a casual and complete change to jazz idiom, without abandoning the five-note line. We’ve left the Emperor’s pavilions for the skyscrapers of Hong-Kong. Soksu is another example of urban slick, contemporary and slapstick, both intelligent and virtuoso. Warren’s laid back English humour sets up the right smooth backdrop for the boisterous wit of this ‘goulash rap’. Enver blends a traditional style of syncopated ad lib bass vocalization from the Mongol steppes of Central Asia with an improvised anti-sense text. Here this duo achieves that very rare repartee associated with brilliant comedians like the Marx Brothers.