CCX - Cross-Cultural X-periment / The Vanguard
CCX - Cross-Cultural X-periment / The Vanguard, 2021
Available from FolkSounds Records and better digital and cd shops everywhere.
I first encountered Classical musician/brilliant Carpathian musician Alex Fedoriouk years ago as a member of the wonderful eastern-European Cleveland music ensemble, Harmonia. Several members of that band have also accompanied stellar violinist Steven Greenman on his solo efforts. I am shocked to discover that I have yet to highlight any of this solo efforts on the KlezmerShack. Now I have the opportunity to kvell about a new and timely release of an older recording (originally made in 2003) that attempted to mix those eastern European roots with global influence and improvisation. Alas, before the recording could be released at the time, several band members moved out of town and the project got shelved until now.
What makes the recording especially timely, of course, is the Ukrainian spirit captured in song title and music. From the opening "Rio de Kyiv," a lively Brazilian jazz dance to "Once upon a time in Chernobyl," the album showcases Fedoriouk's deep roots as a musician and lovely jazz sensibilities. The lovely Django-esque jazz guitar mixing Brazilian samba and Eastern European melodies on "Black Sea" further creates the illusion of sitting in Odessa and enjoying life. Yet, there are also presentiments of the present time as on "Invasion", with its ominous opening bassline, deep cimbalom notes, and soaring scat, succeeded by more gentle, if still driving music, "Once upon a time in Chernobyl" manages to mix searing prog rock guitar with Fedoriouk's warm cimbalom, all joining together in a crashing climax. The unexpected abounds, and fits together, beautifully. Think of "For Herbie," which merges wonderful balkan brass and cimbalom, the entirely untraditional "Oj spala ja na sini," (shades of Rio Nido and American jazz of 100 years ago!) or the closing "Gypsy jazz"—less Django, and more Balkan Brass in Arabic modes.
Listening to Fedoriouk and his friends play always makes me feel good. I am very grateful that this recordings have finally been released for the rest of us to enjoy, and especially moreso in these dark times in Ukraine.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 25 September 2022.
Personnel this recording:
Alexander Fedoriouk:: cimbalom (1-10), xylophone (1), accordion (6)
N. Scott Robinson: cajon w/brush & food maraca (1-10), percussion (2-5)
Eric Hosemann: bass
Kruno Spisic: guitar (1, 3, 4, 5, 7)
Beata Begeniova: vocal (2, 9)
Andrei Pidkivka: flutes (2, 3, 5, 6, 8)
Steven Greenman: violin (6, 10)
Joe Kaminski: trumpet (6, 8, 9)
- Rio de Kyiv (Fedoriouk; arr. Fedoriouk & Robinson) 3:12
- Invasion (Fedoriouk; arr. Fedoriouk, Robinson, Hosemann) 4:51
- Black Sea (Fedoriouk) 3:32
- Once upon a time in Chernobyl (Fedoriouk; arr. Fedoriouk & Robinson) 5:16
- V Neba (Fedoriouk; arr. Fedoriouk & Robinson) 2:56
- Moldavian Triptych (Fedoriouk; arr. Fedoriouk & Robinson) 2:11
- George's Cell for George Crumb (Robinson) 2:55
- For Herbie for Herbie Mann (Fedoriouk) 2:49
- Oj spala ja na sini (trad, arr. Fedoriouk) 2:36
- Gypsy jazz (Fedoriouk) 2:33