It is good to see a new album from Dusan Jevtovic, some four years on from the rather feisty Am I Walking Wrong?
A truly multi-national project, this recording shows what can be done in the spirit of international co-operation in these wilfully ignorant and insular times. Dusan Jevtovic is an individualistic fusion guitarist of some talent from Serbia, who is based in Barcelona. Vasil Hadzimanov is a lyrical and exploratory keyboard player, also from Serbia and based in Belgrade, and in-demand drummer Asaf Sirkis is an Israeli based in London, and he has played with just about every jazz and fusion luminary who has passed through the town in the last decade and more, possessed as he is of the muscular subtlety that all great drummers attain. This album was recorded live in a studio in Banyeres de Penedes, Spain, over the course of two days, and was then mixed in Buenos Aries, Argentina.
If all that doesn’t leave you breathless, then the scope of the music contained within No Answer most certainly will. You will notice that there is no bass player on the album, which enables a shift in focus to the textural capabilities of the guitar and piano in place of the usual bottom end. Mostly it works, with Mini Moog bass plugging the gaps, but occasionally an extra depth would not have gone amiss, especially on the slow jazz ballad Yo Sin Mi, although Vasil’s lovely piano soloing mostly makes up for it.
When Dusan lets rip on the plank, as he does in splendid fashion on the title track, I defy the hairs on the back of your neck not to stand to attention. This boy can play, and then some. In fact all three of them are masters of their instruments, and the sheer passion they inject into their playing steamrollers any inclinations towards slickness, as can be the case with some maybe too expertly played fusion.
Creating heady atmospherics from its deceptively simple cyclical piano motif, the looming textures of thunderous Moog and guitar swirling around in the mix mark out the opener Al Aire/Soko Bira as a statement of intent, although this album is by no means all blood and thunder, mixing slower more considered pieces with its more outré cinematic explorations, a contrast in styles that works very nicely indeed. The title track combines both elements, opening with some calm and considered interplay between the guitar and piano before Dusan slowly takes it somewhere entirely more elemental and primal, making for an emotional rush as it blasts out the speakers and pins you to your chair. A quite wonderful piece of work!
Lifetime unsurprisingly has a Tony Williams vibe, and Asif’s skill as a drummer is brought to the fore. This is a cosmic blues that swings with a natural power and grace, Dusan extrapolating in a manner that a non-muso like me can only gasp at, struggling as I do to find the third chord on my underused salmon pink Strat hybrid. Some were born to it, but not me. Heavily treated piano gets woozy and then the theme does a slight return. Damn, they make it sound so easy!
Vasil Hadzimanov tends to shine when left to dance around classical themes on the piano, as on the drifting and spectral Prayer. Not to be left in the shadows, Dusan having played the introduction and then retreating replies with his considered and respectful extrapolation of the theme in the second half of the tune, a gorgeous piece of music that resonates with the soul.
The Moog bass does a passable imitation of a double bass on the finger-poppin’ Flood, a tune that deconstructs to Vasil’s Keith Tippett-like piano excursion, punctuated by Asaf Sirkis’ scattergun drumming, developing into his own solo spot. This track is yet another pointer to the sheer stylistic diversity of this record. It all works. And so we arrive at the final track, the cosmically spacious The Place With A View. The view is not the notes, but the space between the notes, and very serene it is too.
In a world where it is perhaps too easy to foist one’s musical indulgences on to an uncaring wider world, whereas decades ago it would have stayed in your limited imagination, or maybe have got as far as a Revox, the result is frankly too much music of questionable merit to wade through before hitting pay dirt. Therefore it is a pleasant surprise to come across an artist as individual as Dusan Jevtovic, who with his trusty companions has made a jazz fusion album in No Answer that certainly goes way beyond the rote of doing it by numbers as is unfortunately all too common these days. Put simply, if you dig modern jazz fusion, buy this now!
01. Al Aire/Soko Bira (5:04)
02. Frusci (8:47)
03. Yo Sin Mi (8:33)
04. No Answer (7:17)
05. A Ver (7:35)
06. Lifetime (6:18)
07. Prayer (6:28)
08. El Oro (6:56)
09. The Place With A View (8:02)
Total Time – 65:00
Dusan Jevtovic – Guitar
Vasil Hadzimanov – Piano, Rhodes & Moog
Asaf Sirkis – Drums
Record Label: MoonJune Records
Year of Release: 2017