BLAZIN' QUARTET — Sleeping Beauty (review)

BLAZIN' QUARTET — Sleeping Beauty album cover Album · 2021 · Nu Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
There is certainly a lot of great new jazz coming from NYC, London and LA these days, but you may also want to check out some more unexpected sources such as the Balkans, where drummer/keyboardist Srdjan Ivanovic pulls a lot of his inspiration for his ongoing ensemble, Blazin Quartet. Srdjan describes his Balkan influence as being a place where the East meets the West and then is expressed through the freedom of jazz. His latest CD, “Sleeping Beauty”, bears these Balkan melodic influences as well as a cool European atmosphere brought to the project from the various other band members who hail from Greece, Italy and France. This CD bears some similarities to some of the best work from the ECM catalog. Srdjan’s abstract approach to the drums may remind some of Paul Motian, while Federico Casagrande’s relaxed guitar work sometimes recalls what John Abercrombie often brought to the label. Trumpater Andreas Polyogopoulos, bassist Mihail Ivanov and guest flautist Magic Malik (on some tracks) round out the rest of the band.

The “Intro” takes on a Silent Way vibe and is accompanied by the sound of the morning birds outside the band’s country recording studio. This track sets a perfect vibe for the rest of this album which relies on sensitive group interplay rather than jazz solo grandstanding. The different musicians on here do take solos here and there, but usually against a conversational background that breaks down clichés and expectations. Some of the best tracks, such as “Guchi” and “Rues de Balkans” get somewhat heated as the entire band solos freely while being careful not to step on each other’s toes. Srdjan claims that ‘Melody is king’, and backs that claim by taking on two classic Ennio Morricone melodies, “The Man with the Harmonica” and “A L’Aube Du Cinquieme Jour”. Both of which are given Blazin Quartet’s unique and personal treatment.

The album ends with the sound of the night birds outside their studio and thereby closes the circle of this musical journey. “Sleeping Beauty” lives up to its title, there is much to be found here, but you may need to listen closely to catch it, this is subtle music, sensitive in a way, but hardly devoid of motion and energy.
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