This art of music has the virtue of being plural and boundless. Even so, its development has allowed the formation of certain well-fenced lots. For instance, people say that Coltrane's playing was a definite landmark that no sax player after him could beat. Equally, they say that Tatum, Powell, and Evans did the whole thing that can be done on piano. So if they listen, for example, to Mehldau, they compare him to Bill Evans, or, paraphrasing Mehldau's words, they set a thorn of comparison in his side.
It cannot be denied that jazz is an art of influences, but that does not imply that originality cannot be reached. I begun to listen to jazz in the middle of the '80s when I was a teenager. I have since been listening to my contemporary fellows, such as my elders did with theirs. In this sense, Black Codes from the Underground or J Mood seemed to me really original jazz music, discounting resemblances (since I was ignorant of the tradition). This sort of virginity of criticism permitted me to appreciate the craft of my generation in its own right. One of these original voices was born in 1968 in Belgrade: the great pianist Bojan Zulfikarpasic. Transpacifik, his fifth release as a leader, is also his first trio date, featuring bassist Scott Colley and drummer Nasheet Waits. This record represents a personal statement that challenges the comparison menace.
Transpacifik opens with "Set It Up," a colourful merging of acoustic piano and Render rhodes. Then comes "The Joker," taken from Bojan's third record, Koreni ("root"). This version receives a joyful, muscular, ever-changing treatment with some sound cascades and a little vamp. "Flasback" has an atonal and expressionist intro, followed by a clear and punctual melodic line traced by Colley. It's a sort of suite that resembles the comings and goings of memories.
"Run Ren', Run" heads freely and collectively to the runaway path. "Bulgarska," with origins in Bulgaria, is like a lullaby played in a duet format. Its tenderness deepens due to the wooden sound of Colley and the crystal notes of the leader. "Z Rays" is a classic Bojan groove. If "Z Rays" is the skeleton, Gorznjan is the flesh of Bojan's moods; here, the brush work of Nasheet Waits deserves mention. "Sepia Sulfureux" is the color from which it takes its name. There is something slow and telluric in this tune that haunts you. Finally, the only non-original of the date, Ellington's "Angelica" oras Z called it"Purple Gazelle," is a bizarre calypso that sweeps into swing.
Ultimately, Bojan Zulfikarpasic crossed the ocean to meet himself and find a mature approach to his own music. This is one of the best recent trio experiences on record.
Personnel: Bojan Z: Piano;
Scott Colley: Bass;
Nasheet Waits: Drums.