JAZZ CD OF THE WEEK - Dresch Quartet - Riding The Wind
Peter Bacon, The Birmingham Post
Once again folk heritage provides the springboard for spontaneous jazz creation-whether it's Jan Garbarek exploring the Scandinavian tradition, Trilok Gurtu drawing on Indian music or the British group Lammas incorporating Celtic folk, it seems to be the way to go for the modern improviser.
In the Dresch Quartet's case, the tradition is Hungarian. Saxophonist Mihaly Dresch is a graduate of the Béla Bartok Conservatory, but has expanded a classical education to incorporate a deep understanding of Hungarian folk music and John Coltrane. The result is music of great power and beauty, with Dresch's soprano saxophone often calling to mind its ancient forerunners the shawm or the tarogato.
The quartet is completed by violin, bass and drums, with another historic instrument, the cimbalom, added for the 11-minute long Great plains. This is a cross between a piano and a marimba and adds to the exotic ambience of the music. The freshness of the music is striking-it leaps from a folk tune to free improvisation to classical formalism within a few bars and should appeal to a wide range of listeners as a result.
The beauty of the music is matched by the packaging. November is a new label set up by producer Shu-Fang Wang and the thick card cover, embossed art work and bright red spine make this a very attractive little artifact. A live concert by the Dresch Quartet will be broadcast on BBC's Jazz on 3 on May 13.
The Birmingham Post, 1 April 2001
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