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Artbeaters: Life Compass On!

C. Michael Bailey By

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Artbeaters were a Slovenian band in search of a leader, in whom they found violinist Peter Ugrin. Ugrin had completed his studies in music in New York City, returning home to an opportunity awaiting him. After two intense years of woodshedding and performing, the band recorded their well-received debut recording, Garden of Adventure in 2013, going on to perform throughout Europe. Now emerges the band's sophomore effort, Life Compass On!, demonstrating further growth in these already fully-established musicians. "Their original music can be identified as "world jazz" style which blends various musical genres. The band performs quality, innovative, modern and contemporary music." World Jazz, not there is a thought. Jazz is one of the three gifts America gave the world, but we can no longer lay claim to jazz. Jazz has jettisoned into ether of creative conservation of energy. Like the blues, it belongs to all of us. Every. Single. One.

Artbeaters brilliantly defy categorization. That said, we must do our best. First, this is contemporary jazz. Thankfully, this is not contemporary in the same respect that a good bit of "popular" American contemporary jazz is: a musical bromide for those who cannot face something like late-period John Coltrane. Life Compass On! is all original, often edgy, and always surprising. Ugrin plays an acoustic violin that is sometimes passed through a variety of affects in reaction to what the rest of the band is doing. Guitarist Marko Cepak-Maki can play pretty or rip the guts out, if necessary, often in the same piece. The disc opener, "Eladorayda," is such a composition, weaving in and out of a balladic doze at one moment into a passage of frenetic solo searching the next. The tenor or personality is decidedly European, perhaps pastorally so.

"Driftin' on a Vis" features drummer Janez Gabric cracking out some impressive cross rhythms, while still maintaining enough momentum to push the music forward. Bassist, Ilj Pusnik, does his part in keeping everyone between the lines. Pianist Ales Ogrin provides a dramatic solo interlude over Gabric's insistent push. The title piece is a floating ballad that evolves slowly to reveal a multidimensional piece operating on several levels.

Track Listing: Eladoryada; Driftin’ On Vis; Golden Wings; Life Compass On!; 121.110; Broken Spirits; Sailor; Drama on the Dancefloor.

Personnel: Peter Ugrin: violin; Marko Cepak-Maki: guitar; Ales Ogrin: piano; Ilj Pusnik: bass; Janez Gabric: drums.

Title: Life Compass On! | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

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