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Rastko Obradovic Quartet: The Northern Experience

Chris May By

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Heads up. New kid on the block. Rastko Obradovic is a 24-year old Serbian saxophonist with bags of talent. He has his own voice, is a characterful composer and resourceful arranger, and sounds like he has what it takes to go the distance.

Born and raised in Belgrade, Obradovic studied Jazz Performance at the Norwegian Academy of Music (NAM) in Oslo, graduating in 2017. The Northern Experience is his second release, following Wabi Sabi (AMP, 2018), an EP made with the pianist Bojan Z. The album features Obradovic's Norwegian Quartet augmented by the Russian-born, Berlin-based French hornist Arkady Shilkloper on three tracks.

With apologies for perpetuating gross geo-cultural stereotypes, it could be said that The Northern Experience combines Slavic passion with Scandinavian cool. Obradovic's playing, like his composing, brings both emotions together. Yin and yang, tough and tender. Obradovic does all this without venturing into harmonics or broken notes. If he was to add these, his range of expression would be even broader.

Obradovic's arrangements are precisely crafted and make the most of a small line-up. Pianist Martin Gjerde, bassist Alexander Hoholm and drummer Raymond Lavik are his contemporaries (at a guess, they may also be recent graduates of NAM). Like Obradovic they are succeeding in finding their own voices.

Shilkloper, a generation older than the others, brings plenty to the party, with a timbral range that combines bell-like purity and tones reminiscent of trumpeter Cootie Williams or trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton on plunger mutes. Other jazz French-hornists could do a lot worse than get down and dirty like Shilkloper from time to time.

But as the new face, Obradovic is the main attraction. Watch this space.

Track Listing: Colors; Home; Road To Trondheim; Lake By The Forest; Uncertainty; Whirling Dervish.

Personnel: Rastko Obradovic: tenor saxophone; Martin Gjerde: piano; Alexander Hoholm: bass; Raymond Lavik: drums. Special Guest: Arkady Shilkloper: French horn (2-4).

Title: The Northern Experience | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Amp Music & Records

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