Hristo Vitchev Quintet: The Perperikon Suite (2011)
Shimmering harmonies resonate throughout these modern jazz marvels, and the soloists work their way around and through this accessible and exciting music with equal measures of taste, technique and spirit. Vitchev's pieces are peppered with signpost sonorities and ideas that often reappear throughout a given song, creating a sense of continuity and thematic steadiness that develops around individual soloists. While this group ably establishes its own aural identity, which threads its way through the whole album, each movement of the suite has different strengths and a unique sonic footprint.
Uncertainty and randomness give way to music with the appearance of a processed patina on "The Great Hall," but frenzied solo work from Vitchev, pianist Weber Iago and vibraphonist Christian Tamburr is really at the heart of the matter. Vitchev continually shifts gears on "The Acropolis," moving between intense and driven desires and a more relaxed outlook, and he presents a more exotic locale with "The Northern City." Vitchev and Iago deliver a slew of strong solo performances on the album, but they seem to reach a new level of creativity as they find their way into the very rhythmic fabric of this music.
While the roles of these musicians often overlap throughout the album, drummer Joe DeRose and bassist Dan Robbins have their own unique job descriptions. DeRose drives the music with his busy, yet under the surface, cymbal work, while Robbins anchors the music and provides contrast with his own fluid solo style. Robbins doesn't get quite as much space as some of the other musicians on the album, but his every solo spot draws immediate attention and the band seems to recede into the background ("The Stone Passage"), in order to provide him with an appropriate stage to share his talents.
While The Perperikon Suite contains gentle journeys and ominous encounters along the way, tenderness wins out in the end. "The Southern City," which begins with some graceful piano and arco bass, seduces with its beauty and refinement. Brought to life as a tale of two cities, The Perperikon Suite ultimately occupies its own wondrous world within the confines of its jazz borders.
Track Listing: The Stone Passage; The Palace; The Great Hall; The Shrine Of Dionysus; The Acropolis; The Northern City; The Southern City.
Personnel: Hristo Vitchev: guitar; Joe DeRose: drums; Weber Iago: piano; Christian Tamburr: vibraphone; Dan Robbins: bass.
Record Label: First Orbit Sounds