It’s always a pleasure to champion female artists, and one day I do hope we can all champion each other. Serbian pianist Maja Alvanovij is no exception to this with her fourth studio album ‘ Wind Rose’ out and already making waves across the musical spectrum. Hailed as ‘ spiritually sublime jazz music ‘ ( Jazz In Europe ), this album is a true depiction of the return to art song, hinting at contemporary jazz nuances and I feel deeply rooted in her classical and folkloric influences.
Hot on the heels of their internationally acclaimed 2020 release Organic, standout Maja
Alvanovic and her trio delve further into an exploration into the interactive, contemplative and dynamic style they’ve come to be known for. Wind Rose balances the comforting and familiar with the unconventional and surprising for a truly enchanting listen. Driven by lyrical melodies and delicate compositions which trace the jazz lineage from the likes of Bill Evans to Nordic icons E.S.T, it is freedom of which Alvanovic chooses to explore her different influences which is truly beguiling. The romantic piano stylings of Alvanovic are complemented perfectly by longtime bassist Ervin Malina and rising star drummer Lav Kovač, whose propulsive, fluid, and textural approaches to trio musicianship craft a refreshingly modern sound. Beginning with ‘ City of Jewels, ‘ Maja introduced her ever- evolving world of musical myriads. Nostalgic in feel, the piano swoons over the brilliant rhythm section . ‘Passarola‘ is a joyful contrast , depicting in my mind a joyous walk by the Serbian coastline, drawing in cinematic views and playful conversation. Expanding the trio’s timbral palette are guest appearances from vocalist Aneta George and clarinettist Ulrich Drechsler, who transport the record to the realm of melancholic chamber music, as shown in ‘Echoes‘ . ‘ Green Room‘ is certainly my favourite standout track of the record. Alternating rhythm changes, and full of space and fluidity the track allows the listener to gage with each instrumentalist equally, with a focus on timbre, feel and movement; in particular, Malina’s bowed bass solo sends is spine- tingling good . What follows next is a most wonderful sonic surprise ; the trio deliver one of the most beautiful renditions of U2’s ‘ With or Without You ‘ and as a musician , I can see the appeal. The looped harmonic feel of the original track’s composition lends itself to develop into an entirely different tune all together, case in point with these talented jazzers. That is the mark of a true jazz musician I feel : to re-arrange pre-existing songs altogether. Returning to a jazz infused sound, with expertly delivered powerful vocals from George , ‘ My Father’s New Guitar‘ feels like a standard that should reflect the relation with the old and new; forgotten and reminiscent . Perhaps this is reflective of the album as a whole, but this particular track depicts the following : the ensemble’s collective focus on musicianship is apparent even in its name; drawing parallels to the meteorological tool used to identify the point at which winds converge, Majamisty Trio’s Wind Rose is the point at which musicians of different origins and backgrounds collaborated to create something special. ‘ Long Embrace‘ is clear affirmation of a longing to reconnect, placing the trio ‘s significant contribution not only to contemporary Serbian Jazz, but in my opinion, their clear willingness to deliver emotional songs through jazz, abandoning the tendency to showcase their musical virtuosity, which happens to be the case for most of their generation. Ending with the title track , ‘ Wind Rose‘, the trio perform an almost graceful yet frenetic delivery of a wildflower. that cannot be tamed. With subtle yet powerful vocalise form their guest vocalist and subdued hints of counterpoint from the clarinetist Ulrich Drechsler. Weaving in and out of each timbal palette, you can almost imagine a wild rose, standing tall in the midst of a wind that would most likely subdue her growth. Not in this case.
In Alvanovic’s own words, “Togetherness is for me the biggest impression after listening to our
recordings.” Expertly engineered, mixed and mastered at Studio Kachara by Dimitrije Jakovljević, Wind Rose is crystal clear, intimate, and raw, giving the music the closeness and immersive quality it deserves.
A truly inspirational album from an equally inspired group of musicians that are sure to continually reinvent themselves, ‘ Wind Rose‘ is out now .