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Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017

Ian Patterson By

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A couple of pegs on strings altered the dynamics on the following number, Krajnčan lightly stirring gongs in an abstract opening before lifting his bow. A serene excerpt from a Bach cello suite ensued, bleeding into a vaguely Celtic- flavored air complete with chanter drone. As the music swelled, aided by layered cello rhythms, a fairly orthodox drum/percussive improvisation followed, and for the finale, and with the theatricality of an illusionist, Krajnčan threw and caught invisible notes with one hand.

The most beguiling aspect of Krajnčan's artistry was arguably his melodic sense on cello, where classical, European folk, jazz and African folk influences rubbed shoulders. A little of all these influences found their way into the tune "Snow of Ashes"—part of the score to a film soundtrack composed by Krajnčan. For the final number, Krajncan turned to Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's "Fratres." Pre-recorded cello ensemble freed-up Krajnčan to play, with mallets, the variations. The serenity of Pärt's choral-like meditation contrasted with a rumbling drum improvisation—now on sticks—like storm clouds above a church.

For Krajnčan, musical genres hold no boundaries. The equal weight given to composition and improvisation made for music that was rooted and free-spirited.

Teo Collori and Momento Cigano

The final act of the Slovenia Music Showcase saw the quintet Momento Cigano led by guitarist Teo Collori breeze through a swinging set of gypsy-jazz. It was the only overtly retro act of the seven showcase bands but Collori's refusal to trawl the Django Reinhardt songbook meant that his originals felt freshly minted.

With three soloists in the shape of Collori, violinist Matija Krečič and clarinetist Matej Kužel there were plenty of individual fireworks, but it was the irresistible swing engineered by double bassist Jan Gregorka and rhythm guitarist Metod Banko that worked its way under the skin.

The first two tunes, the self-explanatory "Chase" and the mid-tempo "Tony Mitraglia" came from the bands' first CD, Hot Club Piran (Celinka, 2015), but the majority of the set was comprised of new material. A slow, swinging ballad by Gregorka featured exquisite violin and clarinet harmonies, with Krečič delivering a lyrical, bluesy solo. On the merrily chugging "Istriano Duro" rich harmonic lines were the order of the day.

Another aching ballad, "La Pluie," commanded the attention, as did the gently swinging "Bled," but most fun was had, however, on the livelier numbers, such as the infectious "One Moon No Sun," which set toes tapping and blood coursing. A couple of rabble-rousing numbers concluded the performance, though a prolonged ovation brought a double encore. A pizzicato violin motif accompanied Corolli's heart-melting melodic lines, the duo eventually joined by a spare bass pulse in this moving serenade. With a perfect sense of choreography the quintet reunited on an up-tempo, driving tune, crowning a faultless and engaging performance in some style.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tina Ramujkic

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