While jazz as an art form always moves forward, it is also tied to tradition and the music of the past. Many jazz musicians with European ties have found inspiration in the folk music of their country: Jan Johansson's Jazz på svenska, Dag Arnesen's Norwegian Song 1-3 and Sunna GunnlaugsSongs from Iceland are some of the most notable examples.
Hristo Vitchev's Rhodopa could easily be added to this list. While Vitchev has moved to San Francisco and become an important addition to its jazz scene, he was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. On Rhodopa, he explores five traditional Bulgarian songs and adds two improvisations and two original compositions. On his previous effort, Familiar Fields (First Orbit Sounds, 2013), the focus was on the form of the quartet and the electric guitar, but here Vitchev plays acoustic guitar in an intimate duo setting with clarinetist Liubomir Krastev. It is a joy to listen to their communication as they unfold the arabesque Bulgarian folk melodies and make them dance and glow with lyricism, but the real scoop of the album is the original ballad "Silent Prayer" where Vitchev also plays piano. The poignant melody is introduced on the piano while the clarinet slowly soars and the delicate texture of Vitchev's guitar is thrown into the mix.
The composition develops with subtle synthesizer sounds that envelops the song in a warm mist. This is the kind of beauty that wouldn't feel out of place on a sampler from the label Windham Hill. To some people, this might sound as bad thing, but here it is meant as something positive and it would be interesting if Vitchev and Krastev would explore that sound and aesthetic in the future.
Track Listing: Davoiko Mari Hubava (Beautiful Young Lady); Oblache Le Bialo (Little White Cloud); Silent Prayer; Improvisation #1; Blues for Clever Peter; Lale Li Si, Zyumbiul Li Zi (Are You A Tulip, Are You A Hyacinth); Improvisation #2; Polegnala e Todora (Todora took a nap); Hubava Si Moia Goro (You Are Beautiful My Forest)
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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