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Errol Rackipov Group: Pictures from a Train Window

Edward Blanco By

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Composer and educator Errol Rackipov—who currently teaches at several South Florida Universities including Florida International University, Florida Memorial and Broward College—is a master of the vibraphone and marimba where as the leader on Pictures from a Train Window, ably displays his talents in providing a distinct modern/fusion sound where jazz is but one element in a palette of classical chamber and European folk rhythms.

As the vibraphonist himself explains, this album is the culmination of a "journey started a long time ago" as if he were experiencing a magical train trek where, the emotions and feelings of a life time are captured in pictures from that train ride. Originally from Bulgaria, Rackipov naturally draws from his heritage in designing a unique session of music where the European flavor is quite evident. Helping him along this path are fellow countrymen, impressionist guitarist Hristo Vitchev and saxophonist Lubomir Gaspodinov who, together with the leader, comprise half of his eclectic sextet.

The all-original nine-piece repertoire begins the journey on "Mad Djore" which clearly showcases the vibes as the pronounced instrument of the tune and also features bassist Josh Allen, strong work from drummer Rudolfo Zuniga and pianist Martin Bejerano—three Miami-based musicians comprising the other half of the group. Gaspodinov on the clarinet and the leader, deliver the meat of the music on "Far Away from Here, A Long Time Ago," while the music on "Jumble," has that traditional Eastern European sound to it.

The majority of the material here is light and very introspective, "Folk Dance" is the exception as the most lively tune of the set featuring Vitchev's sprite guitar on another European-flavored piece. On the mainstream-side of the ledger, "Wild River" comes to the fore delivering a more traditional sound. The exotic-sounding title track is almost eleven-minutes in duration and is only one of several pieces over nine-plus minutes in length.

Another of the more contemporary-flavored composition of the album is the catchy "The Other (Wrong) Way," followed by the light, balladic and tender finale original "Once A Mother Had A Child" where superb collaboration by the guitarist, the reed man and Rackipov, make this number, a warm and beautiful piece helping define the album and the music. No ordinary slice of jazz, Pictures from a Train Widow is an easy listen, a breath of fresh air, a light-hearted engaging session of modern jazz with a decidedly international flavor sculpted by vibraphonist Errol Rackipov, an artist whose compositions and creative flair, sets him apart from ordinary jazz musicians.

Track Listing: 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.

Personnel: Errol Rackipov: vibraphone, marimba, tupan; Hristo Vitchev: guitar; Lubomir Gospodinov: saxophones, clarinet; Martin Bejerano: piano; Josh Allen: bass; Rodolpho Zuniga: drums.

Title: Pictures from a Train Window | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: First Orbit Sounds

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