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Saxophonist Ivan Ivanov makes his maiden voyage as a leader on Wild Flower, a marvelous recording that is steeped in the modern post bop sound. A member of a younger generation of jazz artists in Macedonia that have gained musical education outside the country, Ivanov brings a breath of fresh air with his debut.
The leader's deft compositions are what make this CD a rewarding experience. From the start, there is much excitement in the band's playing, with Ivanov's saxophone igniting fireworks with intensity and vitality throughout. He is joined by a combo he assembled during his studies at the Conservatory in Graz, Austria.
The compositions, all written by Ivanov, are not simple vamps and riffs, but are structured in such a way that they don't take much time to develop. The date kicks off with the title track, which shows that Ivanov swings and loves melody, but also has a sense of play and melodic inventiveness. "Swinging JW" is a playful gem, with double-bassist Joe Abentug and drummer Anđelko Stupar igniting a combustive drive over which Ivanov and pianist Sava Miletić deliver poignant melodies. "After the Rain" eases with its quiet moments, where Ivanov's playing is melodic, reflective, and filled with a generous spirit. The rhythmic pulse is of central importance on "Macedonian Wi Fi," a quicker-paced tune where Stupar delivers some great fills, while Miletic contributes to the spontaneous, in-the-moment feel with his pulsating melodies.
As a whole, the cohesive energy of this outfit also contributes to the date's lasting impression, as throughout they exchange sparkling asides. Wild Flower is a great start for someone with an obvious talent both for playing and composing. It is a promising debut from a young saxophonist who is arresting in both his maturity and clarity.
Track Listing: Wild Flower; Swinging JW; For R&B; After the Rain; Macedonian Wi-Fi; Monk's Notes; Traffic.
Personnel: Ivan Ivanov: tenor sax; Sava Miletić: piano; Joe Abentug; double-bass; Anđelko Stupar: drums.