If presented with the name of Vyacheslav Ganelin and you immediately think of the Ganelin Trio, you may be very surprised by Birds of Passage. This collaboration with Israeli singer and dancer Esti Kenan Ofri is a different cup of tea and, to complicate matters, it lacks an important dimension: the choreography. As it stands, the performance consists mostly of Ganelin soloing on piano or synthesizer. Kenan Ofri sings only occasionally, in a style strongly inspired by classical Arabic music. The result is an unusual and slightly uncomfortable blend of new age, ethnic fusion, and modern jazz. "From a Nest" (26 minutes) starts with an atmospheric piano solo and never really lifts off. The 36-minute "Gravity" is much better: Ganelin's synthesizer melodies show creativity and Kenan Ofri sings more often (and her voice deserves attention). There is a sense of nuttiness in this track that even makes the beatbox-driven finale bearable. The much shorter "Turn Me into a Bird" closes the disc with a rubato ballad. Kenan Ofri's choreography probably helped a lot in holding together the many segments of the long pieces. Sadly, listeners cannot see her move, and as a result Birds of Passage lacks some cohesion to make it an album you'd want to revisit frequently.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture