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(59:21; Moonjune Records)
Vasil Hadzimanov is a Serbian pianist who has been leading his band for nearly twenty years, while also running a trio and working with many other musicians and also providing music for film. This is the band’s second album on Moonjune, and their seventh to date, all structured around the dynamic piano of Vasil. This line-up has been around for more than five years now, and although there are some guests (which include some singer here and there), the music is rooted around the quintet which also includes Branko Trijic (guitar), Miroslav Tovirac (bass), Bojan Ivkovic (percussion, voice, scat vocal) and Pedja Milutinovic (drums). One of the real delights of this album is one is never quite sure what to expect from one song to the next. Although it is mostly based around jazz, that in itself is a very broad musical area so it can be delicate one minute, or strident and attacking the next. Also, there are times when VHB bring in elements of folk music from their home country, which takes the music in a quite different direction yet all making perfect musical sense at the same time. The press release captures it perfectly when it says “The album mixes ethnic influences with jazz, rock, R&B, funk, psychedelia and more, producing a delightfully zealous musical hybrid – highlighted by brilliant, soulful improvisations, tight syncopations, a flowing, organic interplay and prevailing understated sensibilities.” Some of the basslines sound as if they have brought straight from Parliament or Funkadelic, or if Flea has been involved, yet they sinuously always make sense when wrapping around the piano which is at the core of everything the band is doing. There is a lot of complexity in this, but it is never a hard album to musically follow or make sense out of, and yet again Leo Pavkovic is shining a light on area of the world where most people wouldn’t imagine music like this could exist, and giving it the platform it deserves. Jazz based, but with so much more going on as well, this is an album which deserves discovery from lovers of music, whatever the genre.
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