Balkan Clarinet Summit Transcends Language

Many Languages, One Soul
Piranha 2857
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It’s an orchestra! It’s a small jazz ensemble! It’s a heavy metal concert! And it’s many other things as well. The Balkan Clarinet Summit is a veritable United Nations of woodwind talent, fertile ideas, and musical mastery. It’s fourteen tracks and more than an hour’s worth of live clarinet-based instrumentals like you’ve never heard them before. Go ahead and scoff. I did before I listened.

The Summit is composed of Stavros Pazarentis (Greece), Slobodan Trkulja (Serbia), Sergiu Balutel (Moldavia/Rumania), Oguz Buyukberber (Turkey), and Orlin Pamukor (Bulgaria), with arrangements and other contributions from Claudio Puntin (Italian Swiss and Steffen Schorn (Germany). As the album title suggests, these skilled reed players communicate in the language that transcends words: music. In one of several bold moves, the project opens with a piece titled “Nostalgia,” and it’s a bit like what you get if you took some Gershwin, a medieval pastoral, and classical orchestral music and whirled it about in a blender. If that doesn’t sound particularly “Balkan,” try pieces such as “Geamparale” or “Severniaski Tanc,” each of which pulse with the nervous energy of a dog chasing its own tail. Do you prefer an introspective, forlorn feel? Try “Poéme.” Want to evoke a “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”-like foray into 20th century modernism? Listen to “Sirba De Concert.” Or maybe you just want to hear how many sounds you can get from a reed instrument.  Check out the heavy metal licks of “Snake Lick Jab,” which also contains scratches and funky grooves that will make you ponder, “Clarinet hip hop?” There’s even a brief moment in “Breaza” where the clarinet evokes a didgeridoo, though most of the piece sounds like a drunken dance of mosquitoes (in a good way).  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow remarked that “music is the universal language of mankind.”  Many Languages, One Soul is living testament to the truth of the poet’s words. – Rob Weir

Here's the official trailer

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