Mikhail Alperin's Moscow Art Trio is the rarest of jazz birds: an exploratory unit whose primary concern is lyrical interplay and melodic improvisation based on folk forms and songs from antiquity. Adapting half their material from traditional songs and motifs and with the other half composed by Alperin, the Moscow Art Trio employs voice, horns, piano, and folk instruments to stellar effect. Adjusting the ethnic elements of Russian and Balkan folk songs for the modern jazz idiom, the trio rearranges harmonic and scalar concerns, syncopating melodies and liberating rhythms from 4/4 or 3/4 constraints while somehow maintaining their structural integrity, or at least the essence of that integrity. Of the eight tracks that make up this live date, seven of them come from indigenous frameworks. As such, with melodic constraints being expanded to include the jazz notion of improvisation, harmonic and intervallic extrapolations are common, particularly where instruments such as the duduk, balalaika, or melodica are used. As Alperin's piano provides an anchored backdrop for each proceeding, the rest of the instrumentation on these wondrously haunting, beautifully wrought "songs" is wide open to interpretation. Largely modal in frame and execution, the music performed by the Moscow Art Trio is literally indescribably beautiful and profoundly life affirming.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek