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Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Jordan Shapiro extends the reach of Balkan music with a gentrified twist, hinting at a New York City downtown aura amid the indigenous fundamentals that coalesce into a variegated offering. With straight-four backbeats, streaming violins, harmonious vocal chants and dreamy electronics maneuvers, the album presents a nouveau spin on traditional southeastern European folk.
"Beratche from Prespa" is an Albanian dance, treated with Shapiro's psychedelic guitar parts, concocted on grunge-rock and gravelly keyboards-based intonations. With linear progressions, the piece strikes a balance between reckless abandon, playful havoc, and a rather holistic stance, thrusting Balkan music into unshielded terrain.
Shapiro seldom forsakes the Balkan vibe, but embeds the core attributes within a layered approach, offering a sliding scale of sorts, between customary fare and post-modern expansionism. The band's divergent tactics waver between progressive rock, psycho-rock, jazzy inflections and other genre-crossing factors that fluctuate on a per-track basis. A compelling artistic statement, modeled with a clear-sighted vision that sustains interest via a highly entertaining form factor.
Personnel: Jordan Shapiro: Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, electric guitar, accordion, piano, Ensoniq TS-12 synthesizer; Dave Johnsen: electric bass; Phil Kessler: drums, kanjira, marimba, riq, pandeiro, tuned bronze alloys.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.