Exposé Online banner

Kristo Rodzevski — The Rabbit and the Fallen Sycamore
(Much Prefer MPR-003, 2018, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2018-07-03

The Rabbit and the Fallen Sycamore Cover art

The Rabbit and the Fallen Sycamore is an album that takes many listens to reveal itself, and even after maybe a dozen times through, I’m still not really sure what to make of it. Obviously I don’t dislike it, or I would have been able to write a negative review after one or two listens. On a conceptual level, I rather like it. Kristo Rodzevski strikes me primarily as a poet who sets his words to music, rather than a singer-songwriter. In this respect, he can be compared to Peter Blegvad or even Jim Carroll, and like those two, his voice is not the kind to win singing contests, being on the thin side and slightly quivery. What really sets him apart, and provides much of the album’s appeal, is the group of musicians he’s recruited to fill out the arrangements. In addition to his own acoustic guitar, we hear Mary Halvorson on electric guitar, Kris Davis on piano, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor sax, Brian Drye on trombone, Michael Blanco on double bass, and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. Halvorson and Fujiwara we know from Thumbscrew, and the others are also known from the New York avant-jazz scene. Rodzevski (properly Rodževski) is from Macedonia, and there are hints of unusual phrasing and an accent in his English singing, though in general the lyrics are good — I think he repeats “Ralph Lipschitz, why did you change your name?” a few too many times in “Your Name,” but other songs feature many interesting turns of phrase. Musically, it’s Halvorson whose playing most defines the sound of the album, full of unusual voicings, dissonant intervals, and freaky effects, though with her signature semi-clean tone. The rhythmic backing from Blanco and Fujiwara is jazzy in an unclichéd way, with nods to rock rhythms due to the songs’ straight eighth notes. The horns put it firmly in the jazz camp, with parts that stray well outside what you’d normally hear in a singer-songwriter context. The really interesting thing about this music is that Rodzevski is not really a jazz singer, and the songs don’t really feel like jazz songs (admittedly a highly subjective statement), with some elements of Eastern European folk and a touch of art-punk in the mix. In short The Rabbit and the Fallen Sycamore is unlike anything you’re likely to have heard unless you’re familiar with Rodzevski’s two previous recordings with Halvorson, Blanco, and Fujiwara. Just don’t expect to get it on the first hearing, and give it the time to sink in.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Mary Halvorson, Kristo Rodževski

More info
http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/kristorodzevski3

Latest news

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ron E. Carter - Play Hendrix – Covering the Jimi Hendrix catalogue requires skill as well as thought about which arrangements to interpret and which ones not to disturb. Stevie Ray Vaughn’s cover of “Voodoo Chile -...  (2002) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues