All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Goce Stevkovski Septet: Homage to a Dreamer

Nenad Georgievski By

Sign in to view read count
In the raft of drummer-led records, many of those lack strong identity. Not this one. As a commanding drummer and compelling composer, drummer Goce Stevkovski stands above the fray. This ubiquitous drummer who is known for his affiliations with various acts to whom he has lent his dynamic yet sensitive groove, bands such as Project Zlust, DNO, Arhangel, Leb i Sol and Kiril Djaikovski, to name but a few, has shown to be a thoughtful composer and ambitious performer. With his focused, fully realized debut as a leader, 7 Stories, (Password, 2015) Stevkovski delivered with a well-honed concept and put his name and band on the music map. With his second release, Homage to a Dreamer he adds bandleading instincts to his already impressive list of talents and accomplishments.

Homage to a Dreamer takes off where the debut left off. The writing for this date—all by Stevkovski—is outstanding. It is compelling and melodic, and it balances intricacy and direct pleasure. The septet, is made up of first-rate musicians, some of whom Stevkovski has worked over the past few years, both in the studio and live, like the core group of alto saxophonist Kiril Kuzmanov, trombonist Sashko Nikolovski, keyboardist Damir Imeri, and newcomers and guests such as trumpeter Todor Bakrdjiev, pianist Matyas Gayer and bassist Kiril Tufekcievski. The septet coheres, so all of the players and guests seem responsible for the texture of these performances. The emphasis is on group dynamics and it is here that Stevkovski's vision plays out strongly as each player gets to shine with noteworthy individual contributions and solos.

The album opens on a playful and soulful note with "Monday," a buoyant funk number that falls between vintage Lee Morgan and Art Blakey. It reveals a sophisticated rhythmic sensibility, a refined sense of dynamics, along with an urge to swing. Favoring long compositional forms, Stevkovski's music straddles jazz and chamber music with keen attention to rich ensemble textures such as on "Dinner for Two." Flowing phrases provided by Kuzmanov lap over playful and swinging grooves, creating tensions and contrasts that are ultimately quite melodic. Guitarist Dimitar Bozikov, with whom Stevkovski has played with as part of the new Leb i Sol band, provides playful and edgy slide lines that serve as a nice ornamentation. "The Wedding" is a more take-no-prisoners offering with a distinct Latino flavor paced by Stevkovski's funky drummer pulse and a labyrinth of unison lines by Kuzmanov and Bakardjiev. These are followed by nice and warm solos by Imeri and Nikolov. The drummer is dazzling here, morphing the Latin groove into a funk-infused muscle-swing.

The pace dictated by the opening three compositions drops the tempo with "Being There." It's a slow-paced gem where pianist Gayer gets to shine with his bluesy honky-tonk piano lines. "Life" is a more layered composition with the musicians creating a web of horns and a flute. It has a suite-like quality about it that steers into myriad twists and turns and contains an exceptional long solo from Bakrdjiev, where the trumpet melody starts out slowly as a contrast and then begins to interweave dynamically as well until the whole band is engaged. "Not Being There" is a laid-back affair filled with subtle creativity on part of pianist Gayer. This tender ballad portrays an interesting piano stylist with many ingredients under his fingers. The music's tone is reflective, warm and intimate. The album bookends with "Train Station" where the band places a premium on melody and groove over chops, although there are some sizzling licks.

On this record, Stevkovski's squad blends inquisitive playing with an authoritative stance. Stevkovski catapults a soul-jazz formula into new territory with surprise dynamics, orchestral textures, and big-picture arrangements. His compositions are works of art, and the playing in service of them. Homage to a Dreamer is confirmation of his potential of becoming one of the great jazz authors of his generation.

Track Listing: Monday; Dinner for Two; The Wedding; Being There; Life; Not Being There; Train Station.

Personnel: Goce Stekovski: drums; Kiril Kuzmanov: saxophone; Todor Bakrdjiev: trumpet; Sasko Nikolovski: trombone; Matyas Gayer: piano; Kiril Tufekcievski: double bass; Damir Imeri: keyboards; Trajce Velkov: trumpet (track 1); Gordan Spasovski: piano (track 1); Dimitar Bozikov: guitar (track 2) Matyas Gayer: piano; Kiril Tufekcievski: double bass; Damir Imeri: keyboards.

Title: Homage to a Dreamer | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: SJF Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Fat Daddy CD/LP/Track Review
Fat Daddy
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Short Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Short Stories
by Gareth Thompson
Published: September 19, 2018
Read UHHM CD/LP/Track Review
by John Bricker
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Decoy CD/LP/Track Review
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller CD/LP/Track Review
Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2018
Read "Drift" CD/LP/Track Review Drift
by Paul Rauch
Published: July 18, 2018
Read "Just One More Time" CD/LP/Track Review Just One More Time
by James Fleming
Published: July 8, 2018
Read "Komitas:  Seven Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Komitas: Seven Songs
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 7, 2018
Read "Elementals" CD/LP/Track Review Elementals
by Chris May
Published: April 18, 2018
Read "For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You" CD/LP/Track Review For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)
by John Kelman
Published: March 30, 2018