Global Village Orchestra


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The concept of mixing and matching musicians from around the world in an attempt to fuse their folk forms into a unified whole is not new, but the Global Village Orchestra were conceived and assembled in a manner unlike anything else previously attempted. The Music: World series in Utrecht, Holland, has been a setting for many such mergings, and this is where this band was born. Though inspired by American jazz improvisation, there are no players from the U.S., but the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Senegal, Uiguristan, and Yugoslavia are represented. While the music on Globalistics does not have a single resonant theme, all the players are allowed to offer their own personal sounds and invite the others to join in, which they do happily. If anything, this music is loaded with hand percussion, occasional vocal chants, and a decidedly Arabic flair, and even includes a short modern creative improvised burst or two. If you enjoy traditional music with a modern twist and jazz flavor, listen to the maxed-out dancing groove of "Yaschlik," featuring the flowing saz of Behsat Uvez and tart clarinet of Steven Kamperman. "Slavic Brew" combines flute, clarinet, and oud in a floating no-time soup, followed by a powerful dervish groove and furious unison line. The complex, animated, and jumpy 5/4 rhythm on the title track showcases the choppy violin of Kamil Abbas, while a maddening 7/8 beat with hot hand drumming urging it on summons a driven melody for "Tubab Magyar," pushed further and then into silence by the bass sax solo of Henk Spies. Closer to traditional jazz is the old-timey fast Bulgarian dance "Blue Wedding," with an exuberant call and response that would impress any Dixieland player. The band has its moments of pensive introspection, too, as on the Middle Eastern trance dance "Beduin," identified by the charming oud playing of Karim Eharruyen; the foggy East Indian raga-styled "Little Shiva," with Mark Alban Lotz on the bansuri flute; and the seductive late-night traditional siren song "Ayerlik," with Uvez's saz and Akos Laki's clarinet locked hopelessly in temptation's grip. The high-level musicality and empathy for many different cultural mores and beliefs make this project one of the more precious combinations ever attempted, and joyously achieved. It is the hope that this is only the beginning, and that many more recordings or touring opportunities can be offered to this extraordinary ensemble of brilliant musicians. For now, though, this is a must-buy -- until that day arrives.

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