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Er J Orchestra (Ukraine) - 1998 - "Gabrielius"
(55 min, "Boheme Music")
1. The Tea Ceremony "Kiev – Paris" (10:07) 2. Gabrielius (9:28) 3. A Letter to Jana (7:19) 4. The Bamboo Forest Temple (10:41) 5. Chanson d'Autumne (6:50) 6. Syringa (9:54)
All compositions by A.Alexandrov. Recorded at "Symphocare" studio, Ukraine, in 1998.
Line-up: Alexis Aleksandrov - flutes (soprano and alt), piano, percussion; Viktor Krisko - violins; Sergey Khmelyov - vibraphones; Vladimir Sorotchenko - bass; Demetrius Solovyov - saxophone (alt); Viktor Malezhick - saxophones (soprano and tenor); Andrew Tchuguyevets - acoustic guitar, dombra, bayan; Alexander Beregovsky - drums & percussion (Chinese gongs, congas,.etc), flutes; Oleg Kobzev - vocalize, percussion.
Prologue. Going on talking about pseudo-jazz (and contemporary) bands of "Boheme", which I started lately when, analyzing the second Vermicelli Orchestra's album, I have to go on the genre ascertaining regarding another "orchestra" of the company. Though it's not apprehensible to me, unlike the latest case, to which Er J is dedicated (or belongs) - the "orchestra from the shores" of the Ukraine (otherwise, what would a submarine do in those steppes? - a 'note' is taken from a Russian anecdote), but it doesn't spoil the impression made by the music they perform.
The Album. I think that "Gabrielius" should be taken as the first album of the band because, unlike the VO's booklet, there is no information concerning other works of the band in the EJO's booklet. A genre label on the back cover describes the style of the music presented on the album as Jazz plus Contemporary Music, but not as Jazz plus Creative Music (as it was presented in the VO's booklet). The same was in the yesterday case; the genre "makeweight" to "All This Jazz" makes no sense again, it's foolproof, and Jazz is not enough here to swear by, though there is a certain "fusion flavor" here. Made somewhere in Europe (but not in Austria), "Gabrielius", whatever audiofans from the high-end may say, sounds perfect and is wonderfully designed (like the overwhelming majority of the "Bohemian" production in general). Like in the case of VO (S. Shurakov), EJO is led by the only absolute leader and author of all compositions Alexis Aleksandrov. However, when VO consists of six "staff" musicians and the band is open to guest musicians so they prove the word Orchestra in the band's name, EJO, consisting of nine persons, proves to some degree the conception of a little orchestra even when they don't invite guests. However, the density of the EJO music in general could not be compared to VO's and is more appropriate for the size of a usual band. The mood of "Gabrielius" is not a quarter so smooth and joyful as it is on "Byzantium" of VO and I can find a certain resemblance just in style of VO and EJO (I insist here again on the conception of "Slavonic Style"). In the compositions with more or less massive arrangements in tempo and somewhere in the optimistic key, - especially in Tea Ceremony, Temple and Syringa, a lot of space is given to philosophically abstract episodes which are sometimes changed by fairly melancholic phases. However, in the remaining half of the compositions with predominating meditative and nostalgic moods, there is a big diversity of themes and arrangements for the entire album to have all the qualities which the quality works of the genre have, and which are rather complicated to understand them at once. And again, like in the case of VO, the accordion (bayan in "Gabrielius") takes up the running in the first track, but later on it wouldn't be a solo leader. Violins, saxophones and the Aleksandrov's piano (don't confuse it with the trademark Petroff, etc.) lead solo parts swapping places more often. Besides, the passages of an outstanding acoustic guitar-player, vibes-player and various kinds of percussion in general, which rather more often serve as the background for diverse arrangements, play a rather noticed part in the music of "Gabrielius", which suddenly crystallizes into a long solo without any support by the remaining instruments. "Gabrielius" corresponds to the widespread conception of Progressive Fusion, where the word Fusion is not used in the jazz context, but as a fusion or synthesis of the Classical "progressive" structures, in the basis of which a European symphonism lies with, for instance, elements of Jazz-Rock. Thus, music we're talking about is not Jazz-Rock, but the said Progressive-Fusion, which has already become Classical. Some solos of piano, - for example, the episode with crossing solos of piano and bass in Temple (by the way, there is a percussion solo there too), but more often the solos of saxophones call to mind jazz improvisations and, thus, it helps the album be more attractive for both fans of the Classic Progressive and those into Jazz-Rock. However, an "experienced ear" would quickly discern that all these improvisations were thoroughly composed according to the laws of that European Classical Symphonism and then performed, but not improvised while recording the album (according to the Afro-American Jazz style). The piano mainly works in the same symphonic key, not to mention the flutes and bayan. Besides, everyone would hardly muddle classical, oriental, and sometimes Spanish tunes in virtuoso passages and solos of acoustic guitar with those of jazz. The album's title-track G elegance and is quite persuasive, but only in more eclectic compositions. To my mind, all those "hey-ahey-oh-avey-oh-ananeya-alaleya-ooohuuuh" shouldn't appear in Siringa because here they are put into the structures of the pure Symphonic Art-Rock, performing here in the role of a "devil of conflict". It is too different yet always beautiful music; that's why I have to switch those "voodoos" off our conscious. The level of complexity of "Gabrielius", as a whole, is practically the same as it is in "Byzantium" of VO, the nuances are divined quicker because of the fluent general flow of the music - just a little bit, maybe, and sometimes. As to the World music style (any Neo instrumental works of Ambient and New age styles, as well as instrumental pieces of Alan Parsons, etc), both this and analyzed not so long ago "Byzantium" of Vermicelli Orchestra have practically nothing to do with it.
Summary. Since you already know about the "makeweights" of the style of VO, then the definition of the music of EJO will be as follows: Classic Progressive-Fusion (keeping in mind its definition within our genre). I ought to add that "Gabrielius" of EJO is a notably original creation, especially concerning Progressive in general and "Western" (Japan is not there: that's why the word is in quotes) in particular. As it is already clear, I can doubtless say now that a real, free of influences (new) Slavonic Style within the Progressive Rock genre has been created in the CIS (ex-USSR).
VM. March 18, 2001
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