Ozmosis are intrepid border crossers. They play a vibrant mix of Hispanic, Balkan and original music, all laced with jazz improvisation and skillful interplay. Masters of a surprising array of woodwinds, strings and percussion, their debut recording which takes a wild and wonderful intercontinental journey beyond time and boundaries.
Ozmosis are a duo comprising reedman, Mark Cain, who's 2004 solo cd, Reeds (NM 125 through MGM) received glowing reviews and guitarist, Tim Chambers, who is well-known for
his passionate interest in hispanic string instruments. Augmenting the line-up is percussionist, Paul Tanner, who plays an exciting range of rhythmic textures throughout, including a couple of fine marimba solos.
The hispanic and Balkan threads in the music reflect the interests of the players. Cain's love of the sinuous melodies and angular rhythms of the Balkans is somewhat akin to Chambers' long-time involvement in Andean music and other latin traditions. Perhaps it was inevitable that, in this recording, these disparate influences would come together...
Perhaps the best example of this is Chambers' Santiago. Dedicated to a Tex Mex bajo-sexto (12-string bass guitar) player of the 1930s, this tune is a feature for that
instrument. At the same time, it nods more to the Balkans than the traditional home of this instrument, the Mexican 'norteno' tradition. Then another Chambers melody, Tras Os Montes, sounds on first hearing to be quite 'oriental'. Played on a lesser known instrument
in the guitar family, the delicate and many-stringed Portuguese guitarra, this tune is, in fact, closer to the Portuguese tradition in its manner of playing.
By contrast, Cain's piece, Quentin's Taragotino, has a Balkan orientation with its lively 7/8 rhythm. It features a Hungarian wooden saxophone-like instrument, called a tarogato as well as a Peruvian loose-cornered percussive box, termed a 'cajon'. Hungarian and latin connections continue in the contemporary Hungarian melody, Kis Magyar Dugattyu, a playful duet for whistle and Andean panpipes, whilst The Bulgarian folk melody, Dajcovo Oro, features whistle and guitar, continuing the eastern European thread.
Two tunes on this album draw on early-music influences: Cain's Celtic Bazaar, with its distinct sephardic overtones and a 14th Century Florentine tune, Decameron, from the era of Giovanni Boccaccio's narrative anthology of the same name and a highlight for
Cain's bass clarinet. Chamber's Fresh Forgetting of the Unremembered, a dedication to the late Irish writer, Flann O'Brien ('The Third Policeman'), who penned the phrase, also hints at the past, but with an unmistakable modernism in the blending of panpipes and soprano sax.
The final four tunes on the album explore various of Chambers' latin influences. Illimani is a Bolivian tango. Palhaco, written by the Brazilian, Egberto Gismonti, is a feature for Cain's tarogato. Another Brazilian, Luiz Bonfa's famed Manha De Carnival, is followed by Tonada
Del Ball de Serrallonga, a catalan folk tune and a reprise for the 'gralla', a folk oboe from Catalonia, heard earlier on Cain's Gralla 1... again, a genuine meeting of the ancient and the modern.