Samo Salamon & Aljosa Jeric Quartet: Mamasaal feat. Mark Turner

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
That bandleaders Samo Salamon and Aljosa Jeric are Slovenian doesn't appear to be of much musical relevance; jazz settings of East European folk songs are not the order of the day here. But it might have some metaphorical relevance; just as their tiny homeland has shot to the top of all social, economic and political rankings of countries of the former socialist bloc, this guitar and drum duo has rocketed in a relatively short time to the ranks of world class contemporary jazz musicians. In so doing, they remind—if indeed we needed reminding—just how global the jazz world is.

Mamasaal is either situated—depending upon the perspective—at the comfortable center or the experimental edge of the jazz mainstream. Either way, the compositions are exquisitely fashioned, if at times a little fastidious in their self-conscious modernist complexity. But about half the time ("Pale But Beautiful," "Internal Affairs"), they manage to be memorable and affecting, with a good selection of tempos. "The Shy One"'s ethereal hipness would, for example, be at home on Paul Motian's Garden of Eden (ECM, 2006).

Salamon's playing, in particular, raises this date above the level of merely competent. While he is note-perfect on the complicated melodic lines of the compositions, his solos hit the beat in an approximate way. This creates a kind of tension that derives from a venerable jazz-guitar lineage, reaching back to Melvin Sparks and James Blood Ulmer, transmuted through Pat Metheny's bell-like clarity. Much of Salamon's soloing alternates fragments of rapid-fire lines with strumming that serves to reset the sonic pattern and which provides structure: this approach is most neatly and notably displayed in the borderline-free improvisational segment of "High Heels."

It's not unfair to single out Mark Turner's role—after all, the boys put his name in the album's title. Here, as on the more celebrated and roughly contemporary sophomore effort of Turner's collaborative Fly trio—Sky & Country (ECM, 2009)—the saxophonist speaks with relentless imagination and self-assured coherence. His solos repeatedly give the impression of purposefully zeroing in on the musical heart of the compositions—the way he seizes on the giant steps of "Internal Affairs," for example, or makes sense of the complicated melody of "Little Eva." His honking, abrasive entry on "High Heels" stretches, but does not break, the thematic unity of the album.

Meanwhile, young bassist Matt Brewer (sideman to Greg Osby, among others), is unfailingly alert and inventive, with his harmonics-laden solo on "Internal Affairs" a highlight of the disc. Drummer Jeric's playing is crisp and approachable; he is not afraid to shuffle when the need arises ("Elephants on Holiday").

Ultimately, it is irrelevant and a little condescending to point to Salamon and Jeric's nationality. They will hold their own against all comers, whatever their provenance.

Track Listing: Flying Serpents; High Heels; Little Eva; Night Thoughts; Internal Affairs; Pale But Beautiful; Make The Duck Sound; Elephants On Holidays; Happy Girl; The Shy One.

Personnel: Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Samo Salamon: guitar; Matt Brewer: bass; Aljosa Jeric: drums.

Title: Mamasaal feat. Mark Turner | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Dometra


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Way of It CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Tag Book CD/LP/Track Review Tag Book
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Hide Ye Idols CD/LP/Track Review Hide Ye Idols
by Troy Collins
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Spavati, Mozda Sanjati CD/LP/Track Review Spavati, Mozda Sanjati
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Hesitantly Pleasant" CD/LP/Track Review Hesitantly Pleasant
by John Sharpe
Published: November 12, 2017
Read "Random Acts of Order" CD/LP/Track Review Random Acts of Order
by John Sharpe
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Illegal Crowns" CD/LP/Track Review Illegal Crowns
by John Sharpe
Published: December 10, 2016
Read "g a b b r o" CD/LP/Track Review g a b b r o
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 5, 2017
Read "Moment Frozen" CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Awakening" CD/LP/Track Review Awakening
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 5, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor