Simply put, Kalamona is Eastern European jazz at its best: exuberant, emotional, visceral, and modern. Dél-Alföldi Szaxofonegyüttes (The Southern Plain Saxophone Ensemble) blend Hungarian folk songs and avant-garde jazz licks to create the most festive music since John Zorn's Masada. Béla Burány, Balász Dongo, and Béla Ágoston are accomplished saxophone players propelled by a level of energy that equals a whole big band. They rival in solo virtuosity, but also come together to form nice contrapuntal motifs. They are backed by a strong rhythm section made of bassist Róbert Benkö, sadly a bit lost in the mix, and drummer Tamás Geröly, a dynamo. Kalamona is beautifully sequenced. It begins with two short saxophone trios that emphasize a nostalgic mood. Then comes the traditional festive tune "Kerekes" (Wheel Song), which introduces the rhythm section. That's when Dél-Alföldi hit hard with "Molnár Hol a Pénzed" (The Miller's Ballad) and "Kalamona." The first piece pairs a swinging jazz theme with a softer middle section, the ballad, sung by Ágoston. A series of saxophone solos follow, dancing on the fine line between jazz and experimental, blowing ferocious split tones and highly lyrical phrases. The title track is another one of those irresistible East-European party tunes ("Doodle" and "Reindeer" will also get the feet going). The 20-minute suite "Jelek/Sámánének" (Signals/Shaman Song) is the most raucous track, one powerful highlight. Fans of Masada, Yuri Yukanov, and klezmer/gypsy music with an avant-garde twist in general will love this. This is music to get excited about. And as usual with November releases, the CD comes packaged with stunning artwork. Strongly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture