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BMC  CD 145



1. Veronique
2. Testament
3. Sianie
4. Oblatsi
5. Viara
6. Na mama
7. Lune
 8. Souvenir des Balkans
9. Pessen
Georgi Kornazov - Trombone
Emile Parisien - Soprano sax
Manu Codjia - Guitar
Marc Buronfosse -  Bass
Karl Jannuska - Drums

Kornazov’s lively quintet indicates a healthy state of jazz in Bulgaria. This group plays in the contemporary manner, improvising lines on original material but never going too far out for more mainstream audiences to lose interest.  The opening Veronique is a loping piece, played in relaxed style by the leader and his sidemen. Kornazov’s trombone playing suggests a very good technical command of his instrument and his arrangements of his own compositions indicate a solid background of musical education, possibly more in classical music than jazz, at least initially. Parisien’s soprano lines are equally impressive technically and, like the leader, he can play in a soulful manner. Codjia’s guitar sounds somewhat more commercial than the other soloists but he fits in well and provides a foundation in the rhythm section in the absence of a piano. All three soloists are tireless and inventive improvisers with Codjia functioning in the front line as well as supporting staunchly in the rhythm section.

Testament is a slow, rather melancholy ballad with the leader’s trombone prominent in solo ,as soprano and guitar weave contrapuntal lines around him. Bass and drums support well and the bassist has a big, ripe sound, always a plus in this sort of combo. His solo here is well articulated and full bodied generally. The general standard of integration between these musicians would suggest that they have been together for some time.  The next two tracks  again contrast  medium pace followed by slow ballad and again the melancholy aspect is  prominent.  Oblatsi  has very intense, carefully crafted ensemble playing  by the three soloists with appropriate cymbal splashes from drummer  Jannuska  and a  Spanish inflected  bass solo from Buronfosse. His solos are reminiscent of the style Charlie Haden adopted on his Liberation Orchestra discs.

According to the notes Viara, in Bulgarian, means hope and faith; faith in one’s art. Stick a g after the first a and it means something very different in English but we won’t go there just now. This track is an up-tempo swinger and features a more straight-ahead guitar outing from Codjia. More impressive counterpoint is heard on this one too and lively, well- constructed solos by Kornazov and Parisien.

There is plenty to enjoy and absorb here with the music often taking unexpected turns and moving generally in  new directions frequently. And that, representing the sound of surprise, is one of the main things that jazz is, or should be, all about.

Derek Ansell




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