VASIL HADŽIMANOV — Alive (review)

VASIL HADŽIMANOV — Alive album cover Live album · 2016 · World Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Jazz fusion is alive and well in 2016, and still making a steady comeback thanks to artists like Vasil Hadzimanov and his new lively live album; “Alive”, which features Vasil’s usual electric quintet expanded with the inclusion of saxophonist David Binney. The spirit of early Weather Report can be heard on here, both the Miroslav and Alphonso versions, which is always a good thing as Vasil channels Zawinul while Binney invokes Wayne Shorter, but there is a lot more influences at work on here than just the past. Like a lot of modern fusion artists, Hadzimanov has modernized his sound with shades of electronica and drumnbass rhythms, plus influences from around the world, particularly the Balkans and North Africa. Also, like a lot of modern fusion, the boring slickness of the 80s is far behind us on “Alive”, instead, this music is raw, imaginative and energetic with a very loose approach.

“Alive” opens with two lengthy cuts that bear some resemblance to the aforementioned Weather Report, and while Vasil and David’s call and response might remind some of classic Zawinul and Shorter, over time, Binney tends to eschew the minimalist Shorter style, and instead digs deep into his saxophone with sheets of notes that recall modal masters like Kenny Garret and John Coltrane. After these two openers, things diversify a bit with the percussion led “Oldazim” and the North African rock of “Dolazim”. Later in the album, the quiet and meditative “Razbolje Se Simsir List” uses classical type motifs and “Uaiya” presents Binney’s most extensive solo. Overall there are no bum tracks on the entire album, its smokin hot from start to finish.
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