Jirí Stivín


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Here is the jazz-folk trio to beat them all in Europe. Jirí Stivín on saxophones, flutes, and clarinets; pianist Ron Van Den Broeck; and bassist Ali Haurand have been playing together for more than 20 years. Bordertalk is their intersection record, the album where all of their various traditions meet and hold forth discussion as one instrumental body. There's the opening of "Folk Tune," with its swinging flute figure -- reminiscent of "My Favorite Things" -- that nonetheless moves through Western European court music and deep, post-bossa nova swing. And then there's Ornette Coleman's "Round Trip," where the band turns into a harmonics-generating machine and pulls one shimmering intervallic figure after another out of the complex yet gloriously chromatic open scale created by the composer. Finally, there is Haurand's "Waves" to end the album 15 tracks later, with a lilting flute line by Stivín and Haurand's slow, blues-cadenced progressions downward into the groove. When Van dan Broeck enters, it's impressionistically at first, playing accents around the loping flute, but soon Haurand draws him into the oil of the tune and the band is off soaring across the blues' scalar figures, time shifts, and harmonic displacements to engage in an intricate, non-combatative counterpoint that leaves the listener gratified by stunned. This is trio jazz on an entirely different level than it's played in America, and for the most part, anywhere else. The communication here is so intimate and immediate one would think the players are whispering secrets into one another's ears.

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