COMPOSERS: Burman,etc,Paredes,Racy,Rangel,Riley,Roubanis,Taraf de Haïdouks,Troilo,Vrebalov
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Caravan
PERFORMER: Kronos Quartet, etc
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79490-2
Not the Ellington standard, but words from Pandit Pran Nath – ‘souls travel in caravans’ – inspire the title of the latest album from the Kronos Quartet. Dedicated as ever to world music, the ensemble takes the territory of Pannonia as its theme. This is a land both symbolical and historic, once belonging to the Roman Empire and now embracing Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary, a ‘crossroads of peoples and cultures’ from Europe, the Mediterranean and the Orient.
That this is also a region where, for centuries, people have often fought bitterly from wilful misunderstanding is a fact omitted from the Kronos’s idealistic agenda. Instead, Aleksandra Vrebalov’s gypsy medley ‘Pannonia Boundless’ sets the tone for an album that explores the wide-open spaces through the inclusion of works by Portuguese, Iranian, Lebanese, Californian, Argentinian, Romanian and Mexican composers. By way of spice, there’s also a taste of India, Zakir Hussain’s tabla merged into a re-creation of a Seventies Bollywood song. Though some of the tracks sound more akin to commercial Muzak found in smarter restaurants, there are also some surprises: for a high, for example, try out Ali Jihad Racy’s Sufi-inspired Ecstasy. Nicholas Williams