NIKOLOV - IVANOVIC UNDECTET
(Featuring Magic Malik)
Frame And Curiosity
(2019 - Coolabel - France)
[USA marketing by Moonjune Records]
An 11 piece ensemble including multi-generation musicians from Serbia and France, this collection of music is also boundless in styles and infusions, taking broad strokes of Balkan, varied jazz fusion, world beat, and sometimes including classical, bits of rock, and new music, in very creative ways. The directions often change at the corners, giving the listener a treat to the mind. They can swing and kick, push and pull, sprint and pace at odd meters, in a multi-layered piece, or in a shorter chain of songs.
With the addition of Malik Mezzadri (known to most as Magic Malik) on flute and vocals, the instrumentation is further enhanced and extends the group to a 12 piece on this recording. It should be clarified that rather than 'vocals' we can define Malik's participation as voice, in which he does a wonderful job on 'Far Away' (track #8) and 'Memories' (track #10). The other members are: Vladimir Nikolov (piano, compositions, arrangements), Srdan Ivanovic (drums, compositions), Luka Ignjatovic (alto sax), Kristijan Mlacak (tenor sax), Dorde Kujundzlc (baritone sax), Marko Dordevic (trumpet, flugelhorn), Teodor Blagojevic (French horn), Vladimir Veres (trombone), Milos Budimirov (tuba), Mihail Ivanov (bass), and Noe Clerc (accordion). The mix of so many instruments allows many colors to exist in the composition. The entire performance is superb.
This Undectet sounds as a big band and rotates from that style through traditional jazz and all the aforementioned genres. Always up and bright, the frisky jazz pieces waste no time juggling thru paths and drifts of exciting time signatures. Nice portions of slow to moderate tempo grace the 11 works (67:44 minutes). Lots of influences from classic jazz greats as both the brass and winds do exciting solos, and Nikolov (keys and guitar) and Ivanovic (drums, percussion) add both spine and elegant touches to all the arrangements. Much of the compositions are by Nikolov, and the three by Ivanovic (tracks 3,7,8) are all with old school charm, yet some spring forth with modern invention, even with traces of Canterbury (especially 'Anonymous' - track #5). And in a nice resting place, 'Carefree' (track #6) begins with acoustic guitar, then leads to a soft but spirited jazz excursion. I often hear some of the Elton Dean Ninesense on the horn sections on the album.
Every tune is under 10 minutes, with many around the 5 or 6 mark. But the line up of pieces are so congruent and flow so nicely, it feels like a concept album all lovingly put together. 'Frames And Curiosity' is not without beauty as songs like 'Far Away' (track #8) is almost tearful, with Malik's flute and voice at the end, Nikolov's romantic piano, and Ivanovic's delicate drums. The recording is easy to cherish and will bring hours of pleasure to lovers of world hybrid jazz and beyond.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 2 - 20 - 2020