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Alina Bzhezhinska & Tony Kofi - Altera Vita

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Topic: Alina Bzhezhinska & Tony Kofi - Altera Vita
Posted By: snobb
Subject: Alina Bzhezhinska & Tony Kofi - Altera Vita
Date Posted: 14 Apr 2024 at 11:08am

recording of the week,Alina Bzhezhinska & Tony Kofi - Altera Vita

by Joshua Lee

ALINA BZHEZHINSKA - Alina Bzhezhinska and Tony Kofi : Altera Vita cover

Often a prerequisite of any fruitful collaboration – be it work, art or otherwise – is a solid friendship; something that Ukraine-born harpist Alina Bzhezhinska and Nottingham-born saxophonist Tony Kofi know all too well. Tony Kofi needs almost no introduction at this point for those clued into the UK’s contemporary jazz scene; widely recognised as one of the country’s leading sax players since his early days in the late ‘90s as a member of Grand Union Orchestra, with some excellent records in his catalogue like Plays Monk (2004/23) and Another Kind of Soul (2020) - in addition to playing on Jamaaladeen Tacuma's For the Love of Ornette (2022) - paying tribute to past greats (that’s not to say Kofi's original tunes aren’t up to snuff though, as you’ll hear throughout this week's featured record). Bzhezhinska’s own music tends to pull from the sounds of spiritual jazz, namely seminal harp players like Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane, but also from outside influences in hip-hop and electronica and even more ‘traditional’ jazz sounds, typically recording with her regular stable of musicians known as ‘HipHarpCollective’.

Close musical partners and both based in London, Bzhezhinska and Kofi have often met both live and in the studio. While the beginning of this album’s recording took place last year, the pair’s working relationship goes back much further than that; Kofi featured on Bzhezhinska’s two previous albums Inspiration (2018) and Reflections (one of our" rel="nofollow - 2022 Albums of the Year ), culminating in the titular single of the record ‘Altera Vita - Another Life’ being recorded by the pair last year in tribute to the late Pharoah Sanders. The pair make note of their appreciation for Sanders’ work, but the influential of the saxophonist’s seminal early records is very much present throughout Altera Vita – Bzhezhinska offered her harp to the similarly spiritual Afrikan Culture (2022) by fellow Londoner and multireedist Shabaka Hutchings, also worth a listen if you find yourself enjoying today’s record. While prior albums by both musicians have traditionally featured a full band of some description, Altera Vita is composed entirely of duo recordings, not unlike the musical equivalent of late-night deep talks between two old friends.

Both the composed and improvised moments throughout Altera Vita have the pair locked-in hard, often jumping in and out of unison and quick melodic exchanges. The record also makes tasteful use of supplementary percussion to deepen the mood, mostly recorded in overdubs by Bzhezhinska, augmenting the tunes with a certain otherworldliness and tapping into that aforementioned ‘spiritual jazz’ sound. The opening track ‘Tabula Rasa - Blank State’ is a moody piece that sets the atmosphere of the record, while the more rhythmic ‘Audite Me - Hear Me’ has them navigating loose improvisation and solid grooves with the occasional bluesy flourish. Similarly, the track ‘Tu Vides’ – which opens with kalimba playing overdubbed kalimba – has Bzhezhinska’s harp laying down a subtle swing in spite of the lack of drums, which Kofi complements with a more assertive lead melody. Bzhezhinska takes a freer and more piano-like approach to the following ‘Tange - Touch’, over which Kofi accompanies with a fittingly vocal-like sax lead. While there’s much to be said of the timbre of this record, the pair’s tunes would be just as solid without all the bells and whistles, and strike a nice balance between ambient-like moodiness and lyrical tunes.

The title track that began the pair’s collaboration is what ultimately closes things out, an expressive piece that has the texture of Bzhezhinska’s harp close and tangible, her upper register prickling above the lower droning chords eventually giving way to visceral improvisation, a fitting climax. Bzhezhinska and Kofi said they intended for the record to provide any listeners a chance to ‘sit still and be aware’; indeed, Altera Vita's engrossing ambiance, beautiful pieces and spirited performances make this a record I can gladly lose myself in again and again." rel="nofollow - Altera Vita  

Alina Bzhezhinska and Tony Kofi

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

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Joshua Lee - Jazz Content


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