Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Naxos – The Trip Around The Brain (2014)


Milo Kurtis - clarinet
Konstanty Joriadis - keyboards
Apostolis Anthimos - guitar
Rasm Al-Mashan - vocals
Adib Chamun - percussion
Marcin Kajper - saxophones
Marcin Pendowski - bass

The Trip Around The Brain


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the Polish ensemble Naxos, led by the celebrated musician/personality Milo Kurtis, one of the pioneers of World Music and World-Jazz Fusion in Poland, who was a member of the legendary ensemble Ossian in the 1970s and many other groups over the years. It was delightful to meet Milo in person just a few weeks ago in Warsaw and talk about the old times and the future, which for him is always full of bright things. I remember him taking part in my production of "The Book Of Job" in 1985, under insane circumstances, and his worm personality didn't change one iota over the years, which is truly remarkable

Kurtis is one of several Polish musicians of Greek origin, same as guitarist Apostolis Anthimos of SBB fame, who also participates in this recording. Other members of the ensemble include keyboardist Konstanty Joriadis (also of Greek origin), female vocalist Rasm Al-Mashan (of Yemenite origin), percussionist Adib Chamun, saxophonist Marcin Kajper and bassist Marcin Pendowski. Several guest musicians participate on selected tracks. The album presents thirteen tracks, most of which are credited to Kurtis and Joriadis, either separately or as co-composers.

The music has a distinctive Mediterranean flavor, mixing Greek and Middle Eastern influences, rhythms and melodies into a lively and fascinating amalgam of cultures. On the Polish scene that kind of music is definitely quite unusual and exotic, but where I live this is basically a part of our everyday milieu and this kind of music can be heard all day long on the radio or on stage in music venues, big and small. This kind of synthesis has been the most distinctive characteristic of Israeli music over the last few decades, and it's really heartwarming to hear it happening in Poland as well. Kurtis is doing his pioneering work again, and deserves to be encouraged and praised for it, especially in view of the impressive outcome, not to mention the popularization the idea that diverse cultures can work together for a common goal, as much aesthetic as practical.

This music has no boundaries and should appeal to every open-minded fun loving person on this globe. The streets of Athens, or Beirut or Tel-Aviv swarm with fun loving people and their music reflects their love of life and the ability to live life in full, if only allowed to do so. This album could be a perfect soundtrack of that desire to simply enjoy life. Of course a glass of ouzo, arak or raki (preferably all three) definitely makes listening to this music even more enjoyable. So ευχαριστώ πολύ, my dear friend, I am looking forward to many more such great musical gifts in the future.

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