Gilded Serpent presents...
Jazayer's "Enchanted Journey"
CD Review by
Any of you
who perform outside the confines of your own living room surely
understand the difficulty of wearing your heart on sleeve! Not
only does it take hours of preparation, study, practice and rehearsal
but also the mental preparation alone can send you to seek help
from a shrink.
will always be someone to tell you how to do it differently, or
who was disturbed by your art.
is not necessarily a bad thing. It feels great when people like
your stuff. It feels bad when they don't. Somewhere on both sides
are granules of wisdom you can garner if you can get over yourself.
you only listen to those who praise you, you will never grow.
All of which
brings me to Jazayer:
What is Jazayer? Who is its audience? What do the members of Jazayer
intend with this CD "Enchanted Journey?" What is the story? How
did this work come together? A cup of coffee, their liner notes,
and fifteen or more passes of their album via headphones, car
stereo, home stereo (and elsewhere) still does not explain it
to me. The liner notes have turned me off in the very first couple
of sentences, explaining that Jazayer is a "musician's band."
What the heck is that supposed to mean?
Even as a
musician, I find it irritating when an ensemble classifies itself
that way. You might have cut out a significant part of your audience
with those words! I find it hard to believe anyone would want
to limit the number of potential listeners. The attitude implied
here is that this band takes pride in the complexity of its arrangements,
and only musicians could appreciate the complexity.
is easy to make easy music sound good." they say.
liner notes and song descriptions do not hold back in complimenting
the group. While there is nothing wrong with blowing ones own
horn, a little humility can go a long way in creating a positive
the liner notes, there is a brief explanation of key elements
of each song. Unfortunately, I have been jaded by the first couple
of paragraphs and the song data loses its helpfulness and feels
more like high-minded musicians delivering half-baked educational
babble, name dropping and sprinkling buzzwords to and fro. (A
website with bio information might be a more subtle way to reinforce
credibility. If people like the music, they will seek more information.)
If I am basing
my review upon:
cut artists slack if they achieve two of those things. Unfortunately,
the magic combination of at least two of those elements only happens
a few times in this album, but it does happen! The
music magic to which I allude is one that comes together with
a true "musician's band." It is comprised of that in-the-pocket
energy which happens when musicians can musically finish each
other's sentences. Because of all the name-dropping and the
music lesson in the recording liner, I was expecting something
different from what I heard, although there are a few gems within.
these are talented musicians, but there are some overall problems
and inconsistencies with the mix and clarity and overall production
is also the difficulty factor. Advanced musicians play difficult
arrangements for many different reasons, skill, inspiration, challenge,
etc. I will not deny Jazayer the complexity of its compositions.
Does complexity add value or has the group made things difficult
for the sake of their being difficult? I can drink more raki than
some of my Turkish friends.it may not be smart, it may not be
graceful, but I can still do it. Who cares about melon and cheeses,
conversations and other delights I have missed along the way?
a musical arrangement more difficult does not make it more appealing.
is my guide for selecting potential dance tracks from this album:
Love" is a slower, more emotional piece that has excellent
drumming, oud, and gentle strings. The solos speak some obvious
emotion in this song without becoming to self-serving.
My Ym Ym" features some clever stops and starts and wonderful
bass playing and the saba makam used in this piece is enjoyable.
over Easy" is a showpiece with intricate drum patterns weaving
in and out of it. This song sounds as if the musicians
are truly enjoying what they are playing. Some of Vince
Delgado's Turkish influences truly shine in this
- and also
in the second 9/8 tune, "Aladdin's Dance" which follows.
Shader plays exceptional bass on both tunes as well and the violin
playing by Devi-ja Delgado
Croll is elegant throughout.
From a marketing
angle, Jazayer's approach, wording, and story could profit from
some rethinking, especially since not all of the performances
back up the claims in the liner. The "musician's band" label does
not work in this instance; this is not an album for developed
or refined musical taste buds. Jazayer makes great attempts to
deliver difficult music, but "difficult" is the keyword. The actual
difficulty lies in listening to this album from cover to cover
because it is difficult to make difficult music sound good.
do not misunderstand me here: all these musicians are talented,
skilled and savvy. Sometimes, they click together, but sometimes,
CD is available through Vince's site at www.vincedelgado.com
a comment? Send us a
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