Edessa captures the passion and vitality that is at the heart of Balkan music. This often rambunctious band plays the intricate time signatures and highly ornamented modal music that is characteristic of the Balkans with authority and joy. An understanding of the unique connection between this music and it's expression in Balkan dance informs the ensemble's performances and derives from decades-long involvement as both musicians and dancers. Using both traditional and modern instruments, they play a variety of styles featuring long sets that interweave melodies and improvisation with a big Balkan beat.
The sounds of this SF Bay Area ensemble include the ancient and mesmerizing music of the zurna and davul; the lyrical and sweet music of the Greek islands; the haunting, trance-like pentatonic music of Epirus; and-at the other end of the acoustic spectrum-the sizzling, contemporary Bulgarian fusion known simply as "wedding music." The new recording, Bereket, features music from Serbia, Turkey, Macedonia, Albania and Greece.
Edessa travels nationally and internationally and is in constant demand for events ranging from American-style folk dance camps, workshops, and parties to a variety of ethnic celebrations including Greek glendia (festival), Rom (Gypsy) spring celebrations, Armenian parties, Kurdish wedding celebrations, and Bulgarian national holidays.
George Chittenden - clarinet, saxophone, zurna (shawm), tambura
Ari Langer - violin
Lise Liepman - santouri (hammered dulcimer), accordion
Paul Brown - acoustic and electric bass
Dan Auvil - davul (double-headed drum), darabuka (hand drum), defi (frame drum)
Rumen Sali Shopov - percusssion
Edessa is joined by guest singers Christos Govetas, Brenna MacCrimmon and Eva Salina Primack. On Bereket Edessa is also joined by percussionists Tobias Roberson and Bryan Bowman, with Eric Oberthaler on trumpet.
Brave, Beautiful, Breathtaking; Simply Incredible
author: Kalman Magyar, Hungaria Records
Bereket is an incredible work. The length, at 61 minutes, is just too short - it's the fastest hour of a listening life. The musicians on this CD are at the top of their game in Balkan/Middle Eastern dance music. The guest work by the ultra-talented and inspiring musicians (instrumentalists and vocalists) is also outstanding and adds so much juice. If you don't get this CD, you are losing out. Very few recordings have that "it" factor. This one does, not just for the flavor and the arrangements, but in the way the pieces flow, how they are mixed, and the manner in which they are recorded. In this regard, Bereket is breathtaking. While some of the pieces are reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil (without the heavy synthesizers) and are easily performable in an arena or large concert setting, the music is also intimate enough to be played at a bar or a dance party. For its sheer diversity and multi-faceted approach to this genre of music, Bereket is a brave and beautiful work. Frankly, Bereket has made me revisit my concept of folk music recording, and you've set the bar very high. Thank you for that.
Kalman Magyar www.kalmanmagyar.com
"I have to tell you I had trouble with this. The CD is distractingly beautiful and trying to write about it to strangers is like trying to describe sex to a seven year old: words fail in describing the emotion, and the technical details miss the point of the activity.
…There are very danceable versions of many pieces - Opa Cupa makes a great U Sest, the Yetiére is appropriately hair-raising, Djevria's dance, Saskin, and Cilveloy come to mind - and the Devolliçe is the best version available for dancers, combining the atmospheric slow part of the Bob Leibman field recording with the more ecstatic fast section which reminds me of Ramiz Islami's long unavailable tape, all at a nice length. Dan Auvil and Tobias Roberson's sophisticated percussion work in the implied 9/8 of Djevria's Dance delights the mind as well as the ear. These are not slavish reproductions of dance tapes, but fully realized works in their own right.
At this point the CD changes from beautifully played and useful versions of music for your feet. The Epiriotiko Greek improvisation and Pogonissios that follows is one of the most beautiful in my collection. Ari L anger's violin and Lise Liepman's santouri are exquisite here. I listened to this CD after I returned from a rather difficult day, and by the time Christos Govetas' vocal came in all the tension had drained out of my body. George Chittenden's work on the concluding Miroloi transported me to another world.
Many of Édessa 's large West Coast fans have had the privilege of following these wonderful musicians in various manifestations for years. These are fine, generous people, and they have invited some other excellent musicians to share the spotlight. It is good to hear Brenna MacCrimmon, Christos Govetas and Eva Primack share their vocal talents, and instrumentalists Tobias Roberson, Eric Oberthaler and Bryan Bowman. The CD is very well recorded.
Get this CD. You need it."
John Uhlemann, World Music Radio Host
KDHX FM 88.1
St. Louis, MO