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Duo Atanasovski — Liberté Toujours
(Moonjune MJR124, 2022, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-02-08

Liberté Toujours Cover art

Several years back we reviewed an album by saxophonist Vasko Atanasovski titled Phoenix, or more correctly it was Vasko Atanasovski’s Adrabesa Quartet — a multi-national group which also featured accordionist Simone Zanchini from Italy, Polish percussionist Bodek Janke, and French tuba player Michel Godard. At that time, Atanasovski’s 17-year-old son Ariel joined with the quartet playing cello. Today, a couple years later, we have the Duo Atanasovski: Ariel, who composed all seven pieces on Liberté Toujours (or Always Free), on guitar and cello, and Vasko playing saxes and flute. There are also several guest musicians: pianist Marko Churnchetz, double bassist Jošt Drašler, and drummer / percussionist Marjan Stanić. Fact is that Liberté Toujours was recorded in 2021 just months after Phoenix, and has been waiting for release all this time. It shows Ariel to be quite an exceptional composer with a bright future ahead of him, currently a student of cello at the Music Academy Graz in Austria. One could best describe the music herein as light chamber jazz with a positive, sunny outlook, melodic and quite beautiful actually, with all five players making powerful contributions to the ensemble sound, though one has to say that many of the standout plays are made by Vasko with his melodic saxes charting a top level melodic course for the group, or in harmony with Ariel’s cello. The opening cut, “Drevored,” might typify the ensemble’s approach to their craft — it’s jazz, but by no means edgy or difficult, instead taking a more smooth and somewhat gentle tack; a casual listener might be reminded of some of the Narada label releases of the late 80s. On the livelier side we have “Vrane Na Prepihu” (“Crows on Draught”) where the rhythmic element is far more brisk and Vasko’s sax melodies carry it into East Euro folk territory. “Barve Sena” seems to be describing some elements of natural beauty in strictly instrumental terms, with Vasko’s flute carrying a wild melody while Ariel plays a support role on acoustic guitar. The closing title track is another standout with a strangely familiar melody delivered at a brisk pace. Regardless where one drops the needle, there are beautiful colors and excitement at every turn.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Vasko Atanasovski

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