Friday, June 19, 2015

Elina Duni Quartet, Dallendyshe

A good number of the artists I follow today in the jazz realm I was introduced to during my fairly long tenure as a writer for Cadence magazine. That was where I first encountered Albanian singer Elina Duni and I am happy so say she continues to thrive and develop, with now in release a second album of her quartet for ECM (type her name in the search box for the first) entitled Dallendyshe (ECM B0023137-02).

As is the way with Elina, Albanian folk songs are carefully selected and reworked for the quartet, with all four members having a hand in the end result. The current album thematically coheres around songs of love and exile. Elina's voice is beautifully nuanced and the rest of the quartet gives us a reflective and vibrant instrumental backbone to it all. Colin Vallon on piano, Patrice Moret on double bass and Norbert Pfammatter on drums form a crucial part of the presentation, with long flowing lines, loosely ECM-jazz sorts of lyricism, and the ad lib spontaneity of jazz at its lyrical best. Vallon's nicely wrought pianism is in many ways a perfect foil for the tender fluidity of Elina's vocals.

The songs themselves are wonderful examples of the Eastern European tonality of the folk tradition, with minor keys a big factor in the inimitable way of the region. The arrangements comtemporize and contextualize the songs and make them a center of a lucidly melodic jazz.

There is nothing quite like this music today. I must admit I tend to thrive on it. The new album ranks among her very best. Hear it and travel to a musical world where pain and trouble, loss and placelessness transform into something of real beauty. Elina draws parallels with the blues in the liner notes. It is there to hear, not in terms of notes, but rather in the power of the music to create transcendence.

Great album!

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