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Majamisty TriO: Mistyland

Bruce Lindsay By

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"Seek," so the saying goes, "and ye shall find." But where to look for an exciting new piano trio? The Serbian city of Novi Sad may not seem like the obvious place, but it's home to Majamisty TriO—whose debut, Mistyland, is evidence of a beautifully creative and original ensemble.

Pianist and composer Maja Alvanović, a professor at the Academy of Arts University of Novi Sad, leads the trio. Alvanović is a classically trained musician with a penchant for Bill Evans and—as the band name and album title clearly indicate—Erroll Garner. She has a sparkling style: a bright, precise, melodic sensibility coupled with the ability to deliver strong, punchy, rhythms when the mood arises.

Bassist Ervin Malina and drummer Ištvan Čik are both experienced musicians and have worked extensively in the Serbian music scene, together and individually. Čik skilfully underpins each tune with inventive percussion, while Malina is an extremely empathic player, his fluid and lyrical style enabling the creation of melodic lines as readily as he holds down the rhythmic heart of a tune. His playing on "With You" is outstanding, while his arco on "She Said" emphasizes the pathos of this gorgeous composition.

Alvanović has an original compositional style: creating tunes of beauty and melancholy ("The Tear," "With You"); sweeping, cinematic pieces ("Landscape"); and rather mysterious and dreamlike numbers ("The Queen Of Fruit"). Her arrangements of the two non-originals are also atmospheric. "Happy Love Song"—written by Alvanović's father Blaža Alvanović and co-arranged with Malina and Čik—is a smoothly romantic tune with a cool, '50s late night vibe. Malina's arco line and his subsequent pizzicato solo give the tune a distinctive and unexpected flavor. The bassist's soft, swinging, groove on Alvanović's arrangement of Garner's "Misty" combines with her bright, skipping piano to form a genuinely original version of this classic song.

Guest Aleksandra Drobac Čik sings on three numbers. Her bright, clear voice is childlike on "Lullaby for Iva" (dedicated to Alvanović's niece), and more enigmatic on "Queen Of Fruit" and "Red Like." Drobac Čik's vocals add extra depth and color to the band's overall sound, but even without her voice this is a trio which is adept at creating music filled with intriguing harmonies, melodies and rhythms. On the delightful Mistyland the Majamisty TriO brings innovative and stylish ideas to the piano trio format.

Track Listing: Landscape; Barquinho; She Said; Lullaby For Iva; The Queen Of Fruit; The Tear; With You; Red Like; Happy Love Song; Tuesday; Waltz For Sofia; Misty.

Personnel: Maja Alvanović: piano; Ervin Malina: double bass; Ištvan Čik: drums; Aleksandra Drobac Čik: vocals (4, 5, 8)

Title: Mistyland | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced

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