Kristo Rodzevski - The Rabbit and the Fallen Sycamore

Label: Much Prefer Records, 2018

Personnel - Kristo Rodzevski: vocals, guitar; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Ingrid Laubrock: tenor sax; Brian Drye: trombone; Kris Davis: piano; Michael Blanco: bass; Tomas Fujiwara: drums.

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With The Rabbit and the Fallen Sycamore, Macedonian singer/guitarist Kristo Rodzevski, a dweller of New York since 1999, completes a trilogy started in 2015 with Batania and proceeded with Bitter Almonds two years after. 

Just like in the former work, the bandleader convened six superb jazz musicians to help him convey his musical ideas. Guitarist Mary Haslvorson, bassist Michael Blanco, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara remained solid in their positions, while trombonist Brian Drye, pianist Kris Davis, and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock join the project for the first time, replacing cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, tenorist Chris Speed, and cellist Tomeka Reid.

The album kicks off with a generous dose of glam rock since “Polyester Suit” exhibits, at some point, a similar vocal tone and dramatic vein of the British rock band Placebo. Here, Drye’s solo gets responses from Halvorson’s effect-drenched guitar.

The trombonist returns to the spotlight on “Out of Key”, a piece that, even not as grungy as Nirvana or Alice In Chains, carries a bit of these band’s emotional desperation. However, the trombone solo, introduced by clapping, shape into a Spanish-tinged harmonic sequence that is not followed when Laubrock takes over by the end. Robust in sound, the indomitable saxophonist infuses the right amount of irreverence on “Your Name”, a song with a punk vibe à-la Public Image Ltd., even if sung in a softer tone when compared with John Lydon’s style.

With most of the tunes falling into the alternative pop/rock genre, jazz is clearly spotted on the cabaret-tinged “Madadayo”, a mellow, somewhat obscure dramatic piece that pushes Davis into infrequent euphonic incursions. Yet, her known adventurous pianistic twirls populate “Meet Me Online”, a song with a strong chorus, which also bursts with Halvorson’s rapid pointillism.

If the yearning that envelops “Bucharest, 1913” takes us to Radiohead’s nostalgic tonalities, the title cut wraps up the session with a folk-rock that could have been composed by Nick Drake or Sun Kil Moon.
The album was mixed by Bill Laswell and co-produced by Rodzevski and Fujiwara. Regardless of the numerous influences, the songs reveal a strong identity, flowing agreeably. However, some more time given to these extraordinary improvisers would have been beneficial.

         Grade  B

        Grade B

Favorite Tracks:
03 - Your Name ► 04 - Madadayo ► 06 - Meet Me Online