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Ultima Armonia: Someone Killed the Swan -- Laments on South-Eastern Europe

Glenn Astarita By

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Multi-woodwind specialist Boris Kovac and pianist Stevan Kovac Tickmayer have fostered a musical partnership spanning three decades and lead this European quartet though a progression of laments on South-Eastern Europe amid Balkan, classical, jazz and improvisational settings. This is not an easy to classify album, as the musicians gracefully merge avant-garde treatments with indigenous Euro folk-isms, and even during energized jaunts toward the red-zone, they use plush melodic overtures as the blueprint for compositional form.

The program greatly benefits from an ECM Records-like audio aesthetic as each note takes on copious proportions, complementing the artists' alluring soundscapes. A sense of intrigue permeates the production, whether Boris Kovac executes a sublime soprano sax solo or when the quartet accelerates the improv element via interconnecting dialogues and passionate expressionism. No doubt, several works impart a distinctive storyline, evidenced by the regal, medium tempo march-like and Balkan infused ballad, "Folk Cabaret." Or when he band generates high-heat and off-kilter phrasings ignited by Tickmayer's prepared piano articulations on "Gardon Music II / piano solo." Even when the quartet mixes it up with fervent aplomb, they occasionally blend a touch of mayhem with jumbling percussion cadences, where the rhythm section often drives the frontline's soloing activities.

The band's sprightly enthusiasm continues on the final piece, aptly titled, "Final Lament." Here Kovac's probing sax lines touch upon mystical North African modalities, accented by Tickmayer's gingerly integrated harmonics. Thus, variety is a contributing factor to the quartet's success as the musicians unite quite a few influencing factors into this galvanizing production.

Track Listing: The Morning; Someone Killed the Swan; Folk Cabaret; Dark Imprints; Hymn; Gardon Music II / piano solo; The Rite; The Noon / sax solo; Final Lament.

Personnel: Boris Kovac: reeds; Stevan Kovac Tickmayer: piano; Milos Matic: bass; Lav Kovac: drums.

Title: Someone Killed the Swan -- Laments on South-Eastern Europe | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Leo Records

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