The Chicken Madness label has recently lived up to its reputation as a source of high-quality releases which manage to sound both contemporary and alternative. Georgi Shareski's debut release, Elflandia, easily falls into this category. Even though Sarevski is a guitarist and mostly performs with his trio, this release finds him showcasing his prowess as a composer and arranger.
The resulting music is tightly arranged yet spontaneous, majestic and lyrical. The compositions are beautiful and powerful, revealing that Sareski not only has an ear for melodies, but also is a composer with a fertile imagination and capability for arrangements that seamlessly shift between the contemporary and the traditional. The music on Elflandia centers around the opening three-part Mourning Suite. By avoiding a conventional rhythm section on the first part, "Funeral," Sareski and his consorts create an ensemble sound which recalls the intimacy of a small jazz group while delving into the territory of chamber music. This feeling pervades the rest of the tracks.
The second part, "Memories," is mellow and beautiful with charming and soulful melodies. It's one of the two tracks ("Elflandia" is the other) where Sareski plays some rather abstract guitar. The third part of the suite, "Farewell," is the emotional high point of the set, steadily building towards a passionate climax. Throughout, the band plays with great vibrancy and elegance, and the bodacious voicings and at times alternative instrumentation help create many surprising and spontaneous moments. A constantly varied musical palette adds greatly to the diversity and the beauty of the melodies and the harmonies.
As a compositional effort, Elflandia can easily be compared to the works of masters like Thad Jones and even Charles Mingus. The musicians merge their talents to create music that is at the same time tight and free-flowing, sometimes managing to suggest both tension and calm at the same time.
Track Listing: Mourning Suite Part 1 - Funeral; Mourning Suite Part 2 - Memories; Mourning Suite Part 3 -
Farewell; Elflandia; Federbal; Lullaby for December.
Personnel: Uri Gurvich: soprano saxophone; Rick Stone: alto saxophone; Justin Keller: tenor saxophone;
Byron Colborn: baritone saxophone; Roy Assaf: piano; Cristiano Da Ros: upright bass; Kota
Nakamura: drums; Georgi Sareski: guitar/composer; Michael Reis: piano (3); David Hickok:
trombone; David Rosenthal: trumpet.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.