It used to be that the name of guitar alchemist Hristo Vitchev on a recording meant a breezy, ethereal affair crammed full of complex melodies dancing over creative, if often implied, harmonies. Not so on percussionist Errol Rackipov's Pictures from a Train Window. While Vitchev's presence is great, Rackipov composed the majority of the pieces and the stylistic stamp is undoubtedly his. Rackipov's vibraphone is central in the recording, though he does afford his bandmates wide open spaces in which to stretch out.
Rackipov's musical ideas are fresh and meticulous. Things warm up properly by "Folk Dance" where the composer conceives a head that could have been by Oliver Nelson on The Blues and the Abstract Truth. Lubomir Gospodinov concentrates more on clarinet than saxophone, pushing Rackipov's tendency to Eastern European harmonies further in that direction. "Wild River" has mainstream jazz overtones in it while spinning further east stylistically. Gospodinov is back on tenor tonally reminiscent of Wayne Shorter of Weather Report.
The collections final three compositions anchor the disc. The lengthy title piece begins as a fractured fugue disguised as a scales exercise. Gospodinov's clarinet emerges balladic, full of ancient melody. "The Other (Wrong) Way" brings post bop into introspective collision with the thoroughly contemporary. "Once a Mother Had a Child" is the most beautiful piece on the disc. Gospodinov's clarinet is woody, dry and throaty against Rackipov's tightly tamed vibraphone. Melodically, this is the most completely realized piece on in the collection and rightly serves as coda to this fine CD.
Mad Djore; Far Away from Here, A Long Time Ago; Jumble; Dill Man; Folk Dance; Pictures from a Train Window; The Other (Wrong) Way; Once a Mother Had a Child.