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Dusan Jevtovic: Am I Walking Wrong?

Dave Wayne By

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As guitar-based fusion albums go, Am I Walking Wrong? is an auspicious and mature debut recording by the Barcelona-based, Serbian- born Dusan Jevtovic. What's immediately apparent is that Jevtovic places soloing on equal footing with composing, while sound, ambiance, motivic development, and the very way in which an improvisation fits into a composition takes precedence over prodigious displays of guitar chops. Of course, there's plenty of the latter to be had on Am I Walking Wrong?. But it all fits together in a very original and individual fashion, making Jevtovic's voice immediately recognizable. His basic playing style is well off into the edgiest provinces of jazz-rock and progressive rock as purveyed by artists as diverse as Terje Rypdal, Nels Cline, and Raoul Bjorkenheim. Jevtovic plays almost exclusively with a highly distorted tone. At its most extreme, as on "You Can't Sing, You Can't Dance," "Drummer's Dance," and towards the close of "In The Last Moment II," the distortion takes on a life of its own, cascading in granular, sparking washes over the tumbling polyrhythms of bassist Bernat Hernandez and drummer Marko Djordjevic. Both Hernandez and Djordjevic are young, up-and coming players with the chops and instincts to take Jevtovic's music to the next level.

Though the music here is more highly creative rock (to borrow a phrase from Allan Holdsworth) than jazz, one gets a sense of Jevtovic's grounding in modern jazz during the album's more introspective tracks, such as "Third Life" and "Embracing Simplicity." But most of Am I Walking Right is non-introspective. "You Can't Sing, You Can't Dance" is a raging, dissonant slab of metallic jazz-rock with a strangely catchy melody. "One on One" is Led Zeppelin-like stomp with a simple blues-based melody that gets taken way out into the farthest reaches of tonality and rhythm before returning to its starting place. The trio repeats the same trick to more humorous effect on "Bluesracho," wherein Jevtovic seems to deliberately play every "wrong" chord possible over a basic blues chord progression. Though there are references to 70s prog and fusion in Jevtovic's compositions, they come across more as the building blocks of Jevtovic's basic sound, not as an attempt to recreate old music. The brief "Tratatatata" is a chunky piece of prog-metal redolent of late 70's King Crimson, while "In The Last Moment II" juxtaposes long legato lines over a Mahavishnu-like arpeggio in 11/4. There's an almost Steve Reich-like quality to the piece that carries it well away from guitar fusion clichés.

Jevtovic throws a few curveballs, as well, giving the album a fresh, diverse, almost experimental quality. "Embracing Simplicity" is a slow rocker based on a never-ending chord progression that spirals towards madness only to end where it started, sans guitar solos. "Third Life" recalls some of Robert Fripp's looped and distorted Frippertronics forays, while "If You See Me Again" pairs friendly strummed acoustic guitars with an oddly harmonized melody, giving it a odd sense of foreboding.

Track Listing: You Can’t Sing, You Can’t Dance; Am I Walking Wta-rong?; Drummer’s Dance; One On One; In The Last Moment II; Embracing Simplicity; Third Life; Tra-Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta; Bluesracho; If You See Me Again.

Personnel: Dusan Jevtovic: guitar; Bernat Hernandez: fretless bass guitars; Marko Djordjevic: drums.

Title: Am I Walking Wrong? | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Moonjune Records

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