The fusion of jazz with Eastern European traditions has been recently championed on recordings by groups such as Dave Douglas's Tiny Bell Trio and Pachora. At the center of the storm since its inception in the mid-'90s stands guitarist Brad Shepik. His technical fluency on the guitar and keen openness to the melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of the near-east have made him a regular staple in these groups.
Tridruga (pronounced tree-drooga; "three friends") presents Shepik in a novel trio with accordionist Yuri Lemeshev and bass balalaika player Tony Scherr. This very intimate recording (made at Scherr's house) has a living, breathing sense of vitality. The inhalation and exhalation of the accordion help contribute to this feel. While Lemeshev does not take the kind of relatively adventurous solos that Shepik prefers, he is responsible for half the compositions on Tridruga and a lot of the relaxed Euro-cafe feel of the record. Shepik, as usual, performs a masterful balancing act between eastern and western musicslending sparse accompaniment when necessary, and launching intermittent well-grounded but idiosyncratic solos. Not to be ignored at the bottom end is Scherr's understated work on the bass balalaika, which has a more open, broad-spectrum sound than the usual acoustic bass. Listen to Tridruga over a romantic candlelight dinner, or play it in a tiny espresso barthis is intimate music, meant to be shared.
Track Listing: Wind Cries; Potato Head; 100 Years; Tridruga; Forgotten Island; The Dream; Frog Dance; Main Theme From the Little Tragedies.
Personnel: Yuri Lemeshev, accordion; Brad Shepik, acoustic nylon string guitar; Tony Scherr, contrabass balalaika.