Hristo Vitchev / Weber Iago: Heartmony (2012)
The choice between widening ones circle of musical partners or deepening relationships that already exist is often something with which musicians wrestle. While finding new collaborators can help in the networking department and open up new avenues of possibility in sound and style, continual exploration with a kindred spirit may help both parties in their pursuit of musical enlightenment, ultimately leading to a better artistic payoff in the end. Hristo Vitchev, a Bulgarian-born and Bay Area-based guitarist, knows a thing or two about this line of reasoning, to which he has subscribed from the beginning.
While Vitchev's first three albums featured different instrumental configurations, from quartet to duo to quintet, pianist Weber Iago was an important presence on all of them. Vitchev took a different tack on each outing, but Iago always managed to act as a balancing force, fluidly conversant in the guitarist's language and willing to play whatever role he was given. Because of this, it could be said that Iago was the "Yin" to Vitchev's "Yang," but that would imply that they complete each other through the balance of opposite traits when, in fact, they actually complement each other through their similarities.
For his fourth album, Vitchev has returned to the duo format which spawned The Secrets Of An Angel (First Orbit Sounds, 2009). The eleven originals are all musical offerings from the heart and soul, but this isn't a one-dimensional recital. Some songs are full of life and positive energy, while others have a sense of regret and nostalgia sewn into their being ("The Last Leaves Which Fell In Fall"), but they're all painted in sharp, vivid colors, thanks to the skills of both artistic practitioners at play. The danger of sameness in sound that comes with the duo territory does rear its head on occasion, but the changes in mood, from touching to isolated to calm to dark, along with infrequent surprises, like the wordless vocals on "Crepuscular Rays" or the hand drum sounds on "And May We Meet Again," keep the potential of monotony at bay.
While Vitchev may find some nice places to visit with other musicians, he has found his home with pianist Weber Iago, and Heartmony is merely the latest chapter in the saga they're writing together.
Track Listing: Under Trees Of Color, Over Fields Of Grey; Musica Humana; Memories In Black And White; The Last Leaves Which Fell In Fall; Prelude To The Crepuscular Rays; Crepuscular Rays; Preulde To An Act Of Departure; The Imperative Expression; And May We Meet Again; Prelude To A Melancholic Heart; The Melancholic Heart.
Personnel: Hristo Vitchev: guitar; Weber Iago: piano.
Record Label: First Orbit Sounds