Talisman

Russian Gypsy Fire

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From the ashes of the former group Loyko came Talisman, a trio of Russian instrumentalists. Oleg Nehls is a classically trained accordionist; Vadim Kulitskii is a renowned guitarist and the group's primary songwriter; and Oleksandr Klimas is a violinist of exceptional speed. The basic concept behind the album is to present music in the gypsy styles. In actuality, there's more than a healthy dose of non-gypsy influences tossed in, as well, from jazz to tango to flamenco. The album opens with a basic gypsy song followed by "The Way to Buchara," which allows Klimas room to show off his ridiculous speed on the violin. "Gypsy Soul" adds in a touch of early string-jazz, and "Tabor" is a melancholic ballad shared by the group. "Waltz-Tango" gives Nehls the perfect opportunity to emulate a bandoneon with his bayan as he invokes the basics of an Astor Piazzolla nuevo tango, and "Flames" gives Kulitskii the chance to move quite ably into a bit of flamenco guitar work. "Romeo and Julia" brings back the dramatic forms of Piazzolla again, and "Hey You, Horses!" moves back and forth between a slow ballad and energetic instrumental sessions. The album finishes on some bossa nova, which the band performs surprisingly well. While this isn't authentic gypsy music by any means, it's certainly something worth hearing, as the various influences make themselves heard through the basic medium of a gypsy sound. The treat here is the virtuosity of the band's members (especially Klimas), and, more importantly, their versatility.

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