Bodan Arsovski and Kokan Dimusevski: Sketches From the Past (2006)
Good things never age and time can only tell what is timeless or not. From the opening notes, Sketches has an aura of comforting familiarity. There's the impeccable playing, the artful arrangements and a brimful of melodies over dark narratives. Having played together with the band, and with guest appearances on each other's solo projects over the years, a strong bond was created between Dimusevski and Arsovski. There is an almost telepathic communication that often brings fantastic results. They make intuitive, shape-shifting music that breaks new ground with its subtle, sophisticated rhythmic interplay and achingly lyrical beauty. Most of it is the product of improvisations that succeeds in avoiding the well worn ruts of so many other stabs at musical freedom.
More than on any other album, Sketches allows more space its for influences to show up. Arsovski's talking bass, at times, resembles Eberhard Weber's tone and Dimusevski resembles both Jarrett and Rainer Bruninghaus. The presence of Jan Erik Kongshaug, ECM's sound engineer for many years, additionally boosts resemblances to the sound associated with the famous label.
That only puts the music within a known framework and doesn't tell much about the content. The music is warm, dark and stunning in its stark presentation that is deceptively complex. Behind the "days of the week titles, fans of Leb i Sol will recognize compositions like "Devetka, "Rucni Rad, "Damar, "Sumorno Prolece," "Rebus" and "Skakavac. The musicians are deconstructing and reinventing the original compositions in such a manner that only a hint of the melody will allow the listener to guess from which composition it stems.
The conversations are so intimate that it's almost inappropriate to be interrupted. Dimusevski is magnificent, throwing playful and deep melodies over Arsovski's deeply resonant bass. This effort resounds with spontaneity and freshness as well as a warmth and familiarity that make for some rewarding interaction. Each piece is given time to unfold and the results are quietly intense, sometimes exalted, music-making.
Sketches proves the power of collaboration, and this has proven as a truism in jazz: when great artists meet, the result often far outweighs what each artist can do individually. This is mature modern jazz that seamlessly marries acoustic and electronic aesthetics. In a way, Sketches from the Past is one of the best ECM releases never to be released by ECM.
Track Listing: Monday; Tuesday; Wednesday; Thursday; Friday; Saturday; Sunday.
Personnel: Kokan Dimusevski: electric piano; Bodan Arsovski: electric bass.
Record Label: Aura Publishing Co Ltd