Berlin-based, Ukrainian guitarist Danil Zverkhanovsky released his second album as a leader, the captivating Work In Progress in piecemeal fashion over three EPs. Thematically, however, the three parts are unified, showcasing Zverkhanvosky's prodigious talent as a composer and performer. The earliest tunes were written in 2011 when he was only 17 and the latest ones are from 2022. They all have a common thread of inventive ideas delivered with tastefully tempered enthusiasm.
The effervescent "Postmodern Serenade" opens with Zverkhanovsky's lyrical strums. Trumpeter Dima Bondarev and saxophonist Sölvi Kolbeinsson state the main theme over keyboardist Yuriy Seredin's simmering pianism. Urged on by drummer Jesus Vega's thundering beats the rhythm section buoys the horns with its percolating cadence. This sets the stage for the leader's virtuosic improvisation replete with complex phrases and resonant tones. The band seamlessly resumes where they left off concluding on a high note.
Zverkhanovsky is also a versatile composer exploring various moods and styles within the jazz idiom. As the name suggests, the soulful "No Girlfriend Blues" demonstrates Zverkhanovsky's bluesy side. The guitarist's blistering chords slowly unfurl over Vega's rumbling kit and bassist Igor Osypov's muscular reverberating lines. The spontaneous ensemble repartee flirts delightfully with dissonance and the intricate exchanges are marked by a distinct swagger.
The cinematic "Sweet Ghosts," meanwhile has a dark and mystical mood. Zverkhanovsky crafts a moving melody around Osypov and Vega's pulsating refrains. Osypov solos with contemplative eloquence bisecting the track and leading up to Zverkhanovsky's unaccompanied extemporization. Here the music hints at western classical influences as the ambience becomes eerier and more dramatic.
The recording is peppered by seven variations of a piece called "U-Bahn Verse." Each one clocking under three minutes, they are explorations of a single motif yet charmingly different from one another. No 6, for instance, is an atmospheric duet between the leader and Vega. No 4 features the entire sextet in a melancholic interpretation and No 5 an intimate and poetic dialogue between Zverkhanovsky and Bondarev.
With an artistic maturity that belies his youth Zverkhanovsky, with like-minded colleagues, has crafted an original and elegant opus. Work In Progress is expressive and emotive, simultaneously raw and sophisticated. It is an auspicious start to what promises to be a brilliant career.
Spring Exacerbation; Dirty Dozen; U-Bahn Verse #4; Postmodern Serenade; U-
Bahn Verse #7; No Girlfriend Blues; №6 / U-Bahn Verse #6; Glow; Lady G; U-Bahn
Verse #1; One For Dennis; U-Bahn Verse #5; Sweet Ghosts; U-Bahn Verse #2;
Work In Progress; U-Bahn Verse #3.
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