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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Silk Road

Act 9538-2



1. Ayer
2. Just A Day
3. Silk Road
4. Song Is Blue
5. Waltz For Mama
6. Whirlwind
7. Night Walk
8. Troubadour
9. Stirring Summer Storm
10. Celtango
11. How Roses Are

Klaus Paier - Accordion, bandoneon
Asja Valcic - Cello


An accordion and cello playing jazz together? Well, not exactly. The combination seems unlikely to produce jazz and, indeed, some of the tracks on this CD sound more like classical than jazz. For example, in Asja Valcic's composition Night Walk, the cello sounds like an Indian drone at the start before both instruments state a sad melody which could be chamber music. On the other hand, How Roses Are has a buoyant rhythm which might be called jazz.

The two musicians certainly work well together, but then they have been playing together for twelve years, from the time when Asja Valcic was a member of a string quartet that became the Radio String Quartet Vienna, which recorded an album called 'Celebrating the Mahavishnu Orcherstra'. The Croatian Valcic and the Austrian Paier recorded their first album 'A Deux' in 2009 and then performed together as a duo at numerous concerts. Their instruments blend harmoniously together, and the cello is better than the double bass at playing pizzicato solos, because its sound is clearer than the double bass - as you can hear in Troubadour.

Valcic also gets an astonishing range of sounds from her cello, making it very suitable for a variety of accompaniments to Paier's accordion or bandoneon. Thus Ayer opens with what might be the start of a cello sonata but, once Paier joins in, it develops into an energetic dance. Just a Day is similarly vigorous, but more in the style of Eastern European music than jazz.

The title-track has Paier building up a melody slowly, with plenty of pauses, and Valcic joins in passionately, eventually accompanying Paier while he improvises freely. This style is repeated on several tracks, with one instrument accompanying the other, or both joining together in stating a theme.

Waltz for Mama is an attractively lilting tune written by Valcic, who also composed the feverish Stirring Summer Storm. Celtango begins with an emotive solo from Valcic before switching into fast tango rhythm with the entry of Klaus Paier. The variety of this music makes it difficult to categorise, but whether it is jazz, folk, classical or world music, it is very enjoyable playing by two virtuosi.

Tony Augarde

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