Adrabesa Quartet: Phoenix

Dan Bilawsky By

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Adrabesa Quartet: Phoenix
Slovenian saxophonist Vasko Atanasovski has a gift for marrying seemingly disparate sounds, styles and cultures, as demonstrated on this compelling date. Binding virtuoso Italian accordionist Simone Zanchini, French tuba titan Michel Godard and Polish drumming force Bodek Janke, and enhancing the scenery with the presence of his son, guest cellist Ariel Vei Atanasovski, this leader erases borderlines. He essentially forsakes the concept of strict style for the sake of greater substance, and the music is all the better for that decision.

Opening with a "Meeting" for these minds, the Adrabesa Quartet leans into an introduction with some mood lighting. Accordion, cello and percussive accompaniment paint a picture of rubato allure for a solid 45 seconds before a bounding, high-flying affair takes shape. The rest of the song rides out like a steady rush of adrenaline, quickly establishing this outfit as a bringer of power and passion. "Green Nymph," which immediately follows that opener, offers some contrast, bending toward classical notions and a cool Mediterranean sway. But that lull doesn't last for long. "The Partisan Song" ends the calm by offering a party—specifically a Balkan bash with twists and turns and even a brief dalliance with reggae rhythms.

"Liberation"—the album's longest piece by a wide margin, clocking in at over 11 minutes—follows that opening triptych and proves to be a standout in many ways. Zanchini's Baroque-influenced, organ-esque introduction stops the show before it even gets started; a slow-flow folk gallantry takes hold at the band's entrance, with Atanasovki's flute leading the way; the music morphs into different shapes, with dips, dives and dance grooves supporting the soloists; and Janke caps things off with a killer drum stand that finds its way back to the beat before winding down and welcoming everybody for a calm coda.

After that lengthy journey the band delivers a more compact statement in the form of "Balet," a wild romp with an 11/8 entryway and feisty 5/8 core that serves as a feature space for Godard's audacious blowing. Then this crew uses "Concerto Epico" to demonstrate how precision play can both devolve and develop in short order, rides atop Janke's stunning tabla work on the animated "Thornica," seduces with Sephardic curves before hitting overdrive on the brief "Yellow Sky," and says farewell with a moaning turned flowing "Outro." Forging itself in the image of a bird of fire, Adrabesa Quartet lives out this music like a real live wire.

Track Listing

Meeting; Green Nymph; The Partisan Song; Liberation; Balet; Concerto Epico; Thornica; Yelow Sky; Outro.


Vasko Atanasovski: saxophone; Simone Zanchini: accordion; Michel Godard: tuba; Bodek Janke: drums; Ariel Vei Atanasovski: cello.

Album information

Title: Phoenix | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: MoonJune Records

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