Makedonissimo – Pletenki
Simon Trpčeski (piano), Alexander Somov (cello), Hidan Mamudov (clarinet, saxophone, kaval), Vlatko Nushev (percussion)
Linn CKD636 79:26 mins
The brainchild of classical pianist Simon Trpčeski, Makedonissimo (meaning ‘very Macedonian’) is a playful, jazz-infused exploration of the folk music of Macedonia.
The disc features some 23 songs and dances selected by Trpčeski and arranged by composer Pande Shahov for a flexible quintet of piano, violin, cello, percussion and (variously) clarinet, saxophone and kaval – an endblown flute played throughout the Balkans and parts of Asia. Shahov’s creative arrangements are organised into a single six-movement work titled Pletenki (‘Plaits’), with each movement focusing on a different metric pattern from the Macedonian folk tradition. The work is thus in many ways a showcase for the marvellous rhythmic vitality of this music, here fused with jazz harmonies and riffs to make for an immensely enjoyable, foot-tapping listen. This strong sense of rhythmic drive is also well-balanced with many slower, more lyrical moments, notably the mesmerising dance melody Čije je ona devojče (Whose is that girl?) heard in a heartrending performance from Hidan Mamudov on the kaval.
Perhaps most special of all, however, is the atmosphere that Makedonissimo conjures: alongside the ensemble’s supreme technical assurance, there is also a real sense of communion and conviviality here. Imaginative, intricate and wonderfully warm-spirited, this is a joy of a disc.