How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Guitar and violin virtuosity lends itself to the music of Yuri Matveyev and Artyom Yakushenko. They work with a jazz celebrity guest list on Out of Nowhere to create a sensational storm of ethnic and popular music. Both artists contribute startling instrumental counterpoint. The violin and guitar are so well known to the public that you feel as though Matveyev and Yakushenko have been living next door to you for decades.
Their album, however, runs through impressions of smooth jazz, ethnic undercurrents from opposite ends of the globe, and hot, fiery contemporary jazz.
"Natasha, Havana" features conguero Steve Berrios in a lovely mambo arrangement that soothes. "Allergic to Gravity" features Michael Brecker in a tornado of blazing-fast cadenzas by guitar, violin, and tenor saxophone. "Amoroso" features Richard Bona, singing gracefully in a smooth love affair. "Vodka Diaries" features Don Byron's clarinet in a firestorm dance akin to the traditional music of Eastern Europe. Together, they fashion images of high-stepping dancers clad in knee-length boots, using their agility to perform unimaginable acrobatics. At the same time, Byron, Matveyev, and Yakushenko move their fingers in unimaginable animated action. Brecker and Berrios return for "Indigo Breeze," which recalls the tango of Argentina with smooth jazz overtones. Brecker's EWI lifts the arrangement politely with fluff and satin.
"Out of Nowhere" teams Bona with Matveyev and Yakushenko in an instrumental fantasy rooted in the smooth jazz tradition. Nina Hennessey's high chanting vocals give "Evidence of Things Not Seen" a spiritual texture. The Rampaging Preteen Girls, a twelve-voice choir, joins the Two Siberians and several other guests in closing the album with "Searching for Power," a hot and heavy jazz/rock approach to modern music.
While Matveyev and Yakushenko retain a tradition rooted in cultural ties, spiritual acumen, and lyrical textures throughout their session, the smooth jazz quality of their product far outweighs the album's personality. Still, you just can't beat the virtuostic aspect of their performance.
Track Listing: Outpost Radio; Allergic to Gravity; Cagey Bee; Come with Me Anyway; Natasha, Havana; Amoroso; New Russian; Lake Baikal; On the Tundra; Vodka Diaries; And Then, Nika; Indigo Breeze; Out of Nowhere; Evidence of Things Not Seen; Searching for Power.
Personnel: Yuri Matveyev- electric guitar; Artyom Yakushenko ?" electric violin; Michael Brecker- tenor saxophone, EWI; Don Byron- clarinet; George Whitty- synth; Matt Garrison- bass; Richard Bona- bass, vocal, percussion; Steve Berrios, Mino Cinelu- percussion; Nina Hennessey, Odasan Macovich, Gregor Vitefiev, Dima Agafonov, Zhenya Chusovskoy, James Sasser, Arden Delacey, Laura Blake, Alana Biden, Tamara Davidson, Luciana Greer, Ali Kaufman, Claudie Mabrey, Isabelle Molave, Madeleine Ruff, Alexandra Schwinn, Luciana Taddei, Dena Tass-Winter- vocals.