New York based guitarist Adam Moezinia first debut album ,’Folk Element Trio’ is what we at Backseat Mafia have suspected it would be , after premiering its single ‘Celebration’ last month : a triumphant celebration. It is a union of global folk traditions featuring elements of Beninese, Malian, Welsh and American folk music in a contemporary jazz context. you can instantly here the sophistication of his guitar playing and trained Julliard educated influence in his more virtuosic guitar dexterity, complemented by his refined improvisational aptitude . It is certainly a very driven, and sophisticated sound with just enough space to highlight the talents of the remainders of the trio that for Folk Element Trio : bassist Dan Chmielinski and drummer Charles Goold .
There is most evidently a very thought out creative process behind this wonderful array of musical traditions. It’s a seamless blend of colours that fuse elements of traditional music with contemporary jazz, in a way highlighting what jazz can offer when pushed to its nearest and dearest partner in crime: folk music. There is obviously a story to each track, whether original or an original arrangement, defining Moezinia as a world citizen both as a person and artist . ‘ Celebration’ is a true embodiment of that, followed by the more playful ‘ School Daze’. Reflecting on his own upbringing, Moezinia has said that “Since I was about twelve years old, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the musical genre that we call “jazz”. That being said, I’ve also consistently immersed myself in many other styles… I was going through a period of frequent writing when I realized that almost all of my compositions contained a certain element, the “Folk Element”: elements from more simple, folk-based music, less commonly found in jazz. From there, I started upon a sort of musical exploration, discovering for myself some of the different kinds of folk music from around the world.”
This is certainly evident in his composition writing. While ‘azalea ‘ can appear to be the most straightforward blues track of the album, ‘Azalea ‘ which follows is a wonderfully ambient, Western- Irish soundscape of purity in texture. It’s absolutely stunning work from all three musicians , with Moezina truly making use of all possible styles with his performance. Traditionally in folk music one is used to hearing a clearcut melody, a simple 4 chord structure and recognizable rhythm, Moezinia cleverly dips in and out of these traditions by often doing more than just improvising on the melody ; he provides depth with rhythmic and melodic harmony, creating a true travelogue of sound. ‘Groove March’ is such a charismatic track, with the band replicating the sounds of traditional Beninese tradition with Malian energy. The traditions may be more similar then you think, ie the use of the major pentatonic and minor scales weaving in and out of each other in ways that make people want to get up and dance in its splendor. A favourite of mine was his texturised and lush arrangement of Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice , It’s Alright’. ‘ Lisa Lan ‘ is a stupendou s rock version of a traditional Welsh song, giving the otherwise mournful lamentation quality a more edgy and uplifting sound. The last track, is perhaps closest to Moezinia’s own ethnicity’ garnering him an almost ‘Santana’ like quality to his playing. It’s the grooviest of all the tracks, and perfect ending an already spectacular array of traditions and musical visions.
A celebration and a perfect accompaniment for when we start to travel again!
Check out Folk Element Trio, the debut album from Adam Moezinia here