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This Quebec-based Klezmer group has been around for more than a decade, but it has never sounded better. A sextet with a mix of Quebec-trained and European musicians, the collective is rooted in the traditional Romanian/Gypsy/Turkish party music that is so easy to love, yet broadened by arrangements that give some of the 12 cuts on the CD a contemporary and more creative flavour. It opens with the musicians whistling the melody, then joyously romping through the thrilling traditional A Nakht in Gan Eyd’n (A night in paradise). They do the same with several others, such as Oy Tate S’iz Gut (Oh daddy, it’s good). The addition to the group of Moldovan Alexandru Sura and his cimbalom (hammered dulcimer) has injected authenticity to the ensemble’s voice and a talented arranger. He orchestrated five pieces, including Bassarabian Hora, a tribute to Moldovan violinist Nicolae Botgros that features a melodically intricate interpretive solo – a wow moment in a great CD. Possibly the most moving piece in this kinetic collection is the traditional Violin Doïna in C, arranged by Russian-born violinist-violist Elvira Misbakhova and clarinetist/conductor Airat Ichmouratov – it is dedicated to the late violist Eleanora Turovsky, moving from dirge-like soul to frenetic, foot tapping celebration of life. What a great album – ideal to perform for thousands at the Montreal Jazz Festival.
Jazz superstars may be a thing of the past, but this well-conceived and richly delivered album underlines the creative forces that push the music ahead into new territory. With his exciting and varied album, guitarist/composer Francesco Cataldo deserves his place alongside such Italian compatriots as pianists Stefano Bollani and Enrico Pieranunzi and trumpeter Enrico Rava and Paulo Fresu.
Cataldo has that life-affirming Mediterranean approach to his music and arrangements, but in addition to pianist Stefano Bonafede, has injected a New York post-bop texture with the inspired collaboration of top American trailblazers—alto saxophonist David Binney, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Clarence Penn.
There is tremendous diversity among the 13 pieces, some inspired by Italy’s stunning cities (Rome, Perugia, Siracusa and its old city, Ortigia), development of lovely melodies (Algerian Waltz, Your Silence—a Cataldo solo, Tourist in My Town), and the title track, the longest piece and so intimate the musicians seem to be addressing the listener, as well as each other.