Serbia is a lyrical, tightly wound affair that rarely rises above a whisper, but weaves a dreamy spell. Working with a sympathetic band that includes trumpet/flugelhorn player Tom Harrell, Rale Micic's guitar sparkles against lush accompaniment.
Both the album's title and its opening track, "Dimitrije, Sine Mitre, are nods to Micic's heritage. Played solo on nylon string guitar, the Serbian traditional opener is a haunting and spare meditation that finishes all too quickly. "Far From Home, composed by bassist Sean Conly, is another melancholy standout. Conly comments subtly on Micic's statements and then murmurs his own soft lament. The rest of the band effectively stays in the shadows, offering only the slightest support.
The more upbeat stroll on "Blessing gives Harrell and especially tenor saxophonist Bob Reynolds a chance to shine. Reynolds delivers a sly, sophisticated and expertly controlled solo. Harrell follows with a fluid and lightly swinging statement of his own.
Serbia is not an album that prizes extraneous gestures. The members of the band work together without needing to upstage one another, reining in their playing for maximum effect and focusing on serving the song with no more than the necessary amount of notes. The result is an album of grace and spare beauty.
Track Listing: Dimitrije, Sine Mitre; Song for Alma; Through the Night; Lucky Number; Far From Home; Together; Blessing; By Your Side; Happiness; Serbia.
Personnel: Rale Micic: guitar; Tom Harrell: trumpet & flugelhorn; Bob Reynolds: tenor saxophone; Sean Conly: acoustic bass; Gregory Hutchinson: drums.