Some bands achieve greatness early and others have to wait. Macedonia's Letecki Pekinezeri (Flying Pekinese) had to wait for six years for its debut, in the meantime honing its craft and tunes at local clubs and the occasional festival. During that time, its band members have gained a new breadth and maturity from experiences playing with musicians on the cusp of the jazz world or beyond, including Ljubojna, and Jordan Kostov Ensemble Moderne. As such, this self-titled album is also the group's résumé to date, and packs a lot into 60 minutes.
As with any debut, it is packed to the top with unparalleled enthusiasm, and evidently the vibe that this group has is strong. Despite its shortcomingsa lack of variety in tempos and too little gritthe group's virtues include economy of expression, effortless swing and beautiful tones. Imperfections aside, each composition has a strong sense of melody and narrative, and from every corner this record permeates the joy of playing and interacting. As a result, Letecki Pekinezeri makes bright swinging music with a more spirited execution and great emotional depth. In most cases, the rhythm section of drummer Slavcho Kocev and bassist Kiril Tufeokchievski drives beautifully through this swinging repertoire and the music serves as a launching pad for the soloists to shine. The alignment between clarinetist Ivo Soldatovic and guitarist Bojan Petkov is deep and fun, and it's that coordination that makes this music flow so naturally. All 14 compositions are originals, and in a generous manner there is a nod to past masters like guitarists Kenny Burrell and Jim Hall.
Letecki Pekinezeri unpretentious and sensitive approach adds a sense of fun. It is dizzying and lovely. Here's hoping that the band will remain active and that this beautiful rapport will evolve even further.
Track Listing: Countless Blues 2; Sopranelli Swing; Mungol; Wrong Train; Call in 15;
Dreamed I was a Quince Moonshine; Guitar from Paradise; Kiro's Backyard;
Midnight Poison (dedicated to Kenny Burrell); The Little Secrets of
Swing; Minton's Neighbourhood; Ballad, Ballad, Ballad; How you Doin';
Minton's Neighborhood (alt. take).
Personnel: Ivo Soldatovic: clarinet; Petar Hristov: tenor saxophone; Bojan Petkov:
guitar; Kiril Tufekchievski: double bass; Slavcho Kocev: drums.
I was first exposed to jazz by my high school girlfriend's father. On the one hand he was the school's Vice Principal, on the other
he was a big Miles Davis fan. He gave me my first jazz record, Miles at the Blackhawk.