Zvonimir Tot's Jazz Stringtet: Sarabande Blue

Dan McClenaghan By

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Zvonimir Tot's Jazz Stringtet: Sarabande Blue
Guitarist Zvonimir Tot says there are two things he knows something about, classical composition and jazz. He combines those two bodies of knowledge in his presentation of Sarabande Blue. The Serbian-born and now Chicago-based guitarist collaborated with a "string quintet" for the outing, adding the bass of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Robert Kassenger to a string quartet, in addition to his own guitar.

Much of the music is through-composed; some is improvised—Tot is a jazz guy. All of it carries the elegant gleam of top level musicianship and meticulous tune-smithing on a set of (almost) all Tot originals.

Opening with "Groove Me Wah," the sound has a sweeping polish of the string quartet punctuated by Tot's tangy guitar, anchored by the rich pizzicato bass notes from Bob Kassinger. The tune has an exploratory vibe—vivacious, with an expressive fluidity and infectious momentum.

"Aneri—Lament" has a luscious, brooding beauty, with Tot laying down notes like a blues player over the string washes, while the title tune exudes an old-world melancholy, and "Fuga Longa, Vita Brevis" could be mistaken—to the untrained ear—for a work by Johann Sebastian Bach. "Blue Quest" evokes images of a lithe woman in a flowing gown, in a twirling ,dance across an empty dance floor through beams of bright sunlight shining through the windows, with gorgeous and intricate string interplay from the quartet which gives way to Tot's after-hours-at-the-jazz club solo floating on cushioning harmonies.

The album closes on a searching and rapturous note with the Bossa Nova "Brother Nicolau," a tune which moves back and forth between energetic and introspective moods, closing out a compelling set of jazz/classical sounds.

Track Listing

Groove Me Wah; Aneri - Lament; Sarabande Blue; Fuga Longa, Vita Brevis; Bruce's Dilemma; Voda Zvira; Blue Quest; Maki (Guts & Glory); Fugue For Mr. N.P; Brother Nicolau.


Zvonimir Tot: guitar; Carmen Kassinger: violin; Lisa Fako: violin; Cheryl Wilson: viola; Paula Kosower: cello; Rob Kassinger: bass.

Album information

Title: Sarabande Blue | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Groove Art Records

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