Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

538

Eldad Tarmu: Songs for the Queen of Bohemia

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
In January 2009, Los Angeles-born, Romanian vibraphonist, Eldad Tarmu took his Chamber Jazz Ensemble, featuring Israeli drummer Yoni Halevy and the Timisoara String Quartet, on tour with a superb new symphonic poem, Songs for the Queen of Bohemia. It has been on record almost since then, but sadly has not received the attention it deserves. Admittedly the world of music is becoming a crowded place, but this music deserves to be taken much more seriously.

The music on Songs for the Queen of Bohemia is a sweeping narrative, infused with the sounds of the Middle East, the music of the Czech and Romania's Roma people and, therefore, unfortunately attributed to what is mistakenly simply described as "Eastern Europe." This is a serious mistake, as it does not begin to describe just how rich and diverse the music of these two cultures really is. Add to that Tarmu has, by naming his suite so, pointed in the direction where the music is at its richest: in the universe of the Roma people and their culture.

Tarmu's wonderful compositions have the charm and odd meters of Middle Eastern music, especially at the expert hand of percussionist Halevy, who himself has added to the rich rhythms of the music of his country by seeing it not as a political entity, but as a rich homogenous geography. Similarly the String Quartet presents not simply the sounds of Romania, or of classical music, but because Tarmu's work has dictated, the Romani World.

This is a suite in ten parts that tells the story of a Queen who is swept off her feet by a dazzling foreigner and becomes so besotted by him that she abdicates her throne and flees with him, away from Bohemia—which is, in the present day, the Czech Republic. The music has an otherworldly charm, as most Romani music does. It is narrative, and does not really fit any Western musical thought; rather, it combines the melodic richness of Persia and India with numerous melodic modes from the folk music of Romania—including cântec batrânesc (epic ballads, literally "songs of the elders"), the music of ancient Byzantium.

Tarmu is well-versed in this music, and his bell-like intonation is derived from the sweeping vistas of traditional doina, the Romanian "folk blues" that echoes with bocet (lament) and când ciobanu si-a pierdut oile (when the shepherd has lost the sheep)—a lament more earthy and wailing that almost drips like tear-drops from wet eyes. This is especially useful in his offsetting the sense of beautiful longing with the tension and ultimate joy of the last two parts of this symphonic poem, "Escape with the Queen of Bohemia" and the largely solo vibraphone, "Song for the Queen of Bohemia."

The string quartet also interprets the music expertly, sounding as classical as it does like a traditional taraf (traditional Roma ensemble) throughout, and joining Tarmu, Bota and Halevy in making this a truly memorable record.

Track Listing: The Invasion Song; Seducing the Queen of Bohemia; Headed East; The Polish Gentleman; Dionysus; Drinking with the Queen of Bohemia; Dancing for the Queen of Bohemia; Battle for the Queen of Bohemia; Escape with the Queen of Bohemia; Song for the Queen of Bohemia.

Personnel: Eldad Tarmu: vibraphone; Yoni Halevy: drums; Stephan "Pisti" Colompar: violin; Catalina Costin: violin: Cristian Hateg-Turcus: viola; Diana Butaru: cello; Johnny Bota: bass.

Title: Songs for the Queen of Bohemia | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Queen of Bohemia Productions

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Stained Glass Stories
Queen of Bohemia Productions
2017
buy
Soul Purpose
Queen of Bohemia Productions
2010
buy

More Articles

Read Live at Pyatt Hall CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Flying Heart CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Solano Canyon CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Cycles of Animation" CD/LP/Track Review Cycles of Animation
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 24, 2017
Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" CD/LP/Track Review EE-YA-GI (Stories)
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 19, 2017
Read "Hudson" CD/LP/Track Review Hudson
by Doug Collette
Published: June 14, 2017
Read "For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You" CD/LP/Track Review For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet" CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Big Man on Campus" CD/LP/Track Review Big Man on Campus
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 7, 2017