"The restlessly innovative work" (LA Times) of Serbian guitar virtuoso Goran Ivanovic has taken a new twist: a pan-cultural band interpreting both classic Balkan melodies and original music composed by Ivanovic.
Their sound combines American jazz and blues with the leaping rhythms and distinctive tonal palette of Yugoslavia. The Goran Ivanovic Group includes Doug Rosenberg (saxophones and flutes), Matt Ulery (bass),
and Michael Caskey (drums and percussion). Presenting their first studio album, they have created an idiom of their own imagining, one that will make you dance and cry.
The Goran Ivanovic Group's self titled debut recording captures the distinctive and intricate music of the Balkans. The album features Goran Ivanovic (Guitar), Doug Rosenberg (Saxophone), Matthew Ulery (Bass), and Michael Caskey (Drums). This extraordinary pan-cultural ensemble effortlessly blends classical and jazz music with the rich folkloric traditions of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Serbia. The resulting music is as alluring as it is complex. Exotic Middle Eastern motifs merge gracefully with the evocative sounds of Eastern European Klezmir music. Beautifully conceived folk passages are followed by perfectly executed Mahavishnu inspired pyrotechnics. The passion and urgency at which this group plays is heard in every note on this remarkable musical offering. While over half of the songs of the album were written by Ivanovic, many of the pieces are arrangements of traditional folk songs commonly played at weddings and other celebrations. Throughout this recording one hears echoes of Ralph Towner's Oregon in the dramatic compositions and virtuosic improvisations of this talented troupe. Goran Ivanovic's formidable musical gifts have already been well-documented. He has released three records under his own name and as a soloist has performed extensively throughout the US and Europe. His collaboration with Fareed Haque, "Seven Boats", recently won Album of the Year 2004 in Acoustic Guitar Magazine. On this project Ivanovic aptly chooses to work collectively with his gifted team rather than use the group to solely showcase his own talents. The results are truly spectacular as in the case of the dramatic opener "Gates to the Unknown." Originally written for solo guitar by Ivanovic, each member contributes their own unique compositional ideas substantially enhancing the initial piece. The music on this exceptional recording reaches way beyond the boundaries of the group's Serbian homeland --- an area which has had to endure a great deal of ethnic turmoil in recent history. While it has often been said that art imitates life, the Goran Ivanovic Group shows the listener how diverse cultural art forms can blend both effortlessly and harmoniously in music.
© James Scott Minor7th Magazine