Thursday, February 13, 2020

Milo Ensemble – Live (2019)

Milo Ensemble

Milo Kurtis - clarinet, trembita, djembe, percussion, voice
Bartłomiej Smorągiewicz - saxophones, flutes
Misza Kinsner - saxophone, sajat
Bartłomiej Pałyga - sarangi, tarhu, morin-huur, shah kaman
Adeb Chamoun - darabouka, djembe, voice
Mateusz Szemraj - oud, cymbals


MILO 305

By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording by the ensemble led by Polish (of Greek origin) multi-instrumentalist/composer/band leader Milo Kurtis, which includes some of the top World Music musicians active in Poland, all of whom are multi-instrumentalists playing authentic acoustic instruments originating from many different corners of the world. They are: saxophonists Misza Kinsner and Bartłomiej Smorągiewicz, percussionist Adeb Chamoun, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Bartłomiej Pałyga and oud player Mateusz Szemraj. The album presents eleven original compositions, eight of which were composed by Kurtis, one was co-composed by him and Smorągiewicz and one each were composed by Smorągiewicz and Pałyga. I had the pleasure not only to be present at the Polish Radio Agnieszka Osiecka Studio, where this album was recorded, but even introduced the ensemble to the public before the concert started.

The album faithfully captures the music that was played during that evening, which was mostly improvised on the basis of the pre-composed themes, completely acoustic and deeply spiritual, with Kurtis directing the ensemble but allowing the individual players to venture into extensive improvisations, and eventually bringing them back into the structured framework. Amazingly everything worked out beautifully together and the superb sound quality and separation allows the listener to hear every tiny detail within the complex wall of sound created by the six musicians.

In comparison to the earlier recordings by Kurtis, the music on this album is less Jazz oriented per se and is much more atmospheric, venturing into Improvised Music idiom, but more form the World music direction rather than from the Jazz direction. As a result this album emerges as one of the most successful achievements in his substantial recording legacy. Of course this is not only due to the compositions and direction setting done by the leader but also thanks to the amazing talents of the participation musicians, who offer a vast kaleidoscope of sounds, instruments and influences, more extensive than what Kurtis ever managed to collect within one ensemble.

Overall this is probably the most impressive Jazz-World Fusion album released in Poland in 2019 and a most significant addition to the important recorded legacy of Milo Kurtis, who remains, after many years of activity, to be at the vortex of creativity and activity of the Polish musical scene, hopefully for many years to come. Se efcharistó file mou!

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