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  Founder: Len Mullenger
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http://www.taleognenovski.com.mk/

Tale OGNENOVSKI (b.1922)
Musical genius: Jazz, Macedonian Folk Dances and Classical Music

Jazz Compositions Nos. 1, 5 and 8
Brusnichko oro
Nevenino oro
Bukovsko svadbarsko oro
Talevo kasapsko oro
Stevchevo oro
Sharsko oro
Concerto for Clarinet No. 1
Tale Ognenovski, clarinet, reed pipe, small bagpipe, zourla
Stevan Ognenovski, drum, reed pipe
Kliment Ognenovski, reed pipe
Nikola Ognenovski, reed pipe
Recorded at PROMUZIKA TRA-LA-LA STUDIO, Skopje, FYRM, date(s) not given.
INDEPENDENT RECORDS, INC., no catalogue number [69.06]


This music from Macedonia has a great deal in common with the music on the CPO Roots of the Balkan Serbian folk disc I reviewed earlier this year, but has added jazz elements and an even more pared down fashion. Despite the "musical genius" hyperbole both on the disc material itself and the admittedly excellent composer's website (www.taleognenovski.com.mk), this is more than worth a listen, the only irritation coming in the shape of the very repetitive drum accompaniment. I can accept that the latter is part of the style of music on offer here but it still makes listening in small doses a recommendation. The clarinet playing of Tale Ognenovski is much celebrated in his part of the world but he also toured in the west many years ago and even performed at Carnegie Hall. He is undoubtedly an exceptional artist and the predominant image created in my mind is of Benny Goodman playing the superb Contrasts he commissioned Bartók to write for him, but with a folk rather than a classical emphasis. All the pieces are credited as being written (arranged?) by Ognenovski and there is a certain thematic consistency which makes it difficult to listen to them as stand-alones. Also, despite the CD promising jazz, folk and classical, it really all comes under the umbrella of his conception of how the elements interlink, with some but not major differences of emphasis. For example, the three "jazz compositions", the shorter folk based "oro" pieces and even the "concerto" all feature more or less the same instrumentation, played by the composer himself and his son and grandsons.

The "jazz" pieces are rather more abstract and off the wall, the folk ones more immediately endearing. None of this ought to detract from the fact that this is an extraordinary and admirable, if rather quixotic, adventure into the dissemination, rather late in life, of a life's distillation of musical thoughts and feelings. There is, unsurprisingly, a great kinship with the village music of Albania and southern Italy, and an undoubted sense in some pieces of a throwback to the orientalism of Ottoman rule. This disc is likely to appeal to world music aficionados who enjoy the Balkan/Levantine soundworld and perhaps also those who care to hear the source musics of their classical favourites, the aforementioned Bartók but also, here, perhaps people like Skalkottas. I mention the latter at the risk of resurrecting the "Macedonia debate"! The blaring reed pipes also occasionally put this listener in mind of the bombardes of his beloved Breton bagadou although without the percussive rigour that usually backs them. Interesting, not really for daily listening but I, for one, feel the wiser for having heard it. Worth a listen!

Neil Horner

 



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