Under reed player Matt Darriau's visionary leadership, the Paradox Trio blends influences from the Balkans and beyond, infusing them with the improvisational aesthetics of jazz and creating a sound that is entirely their own. Unlike the group's two previous releases, Source contains relatively few original compositions. Most of the tracks are arrangements of arcane source material, some of it dating back to the early 20th century, some dating back much farther. The liner notes helpfully sort out the details and explicate the various forms that typify this music: the terkisher, the kalamatiano, the hora, the ciftetelli, the hassapiko, and the doina. "Üsküdar," a Turkish standard from the '20s, features Lorin Sklamberg of the Klezmatics singing beautifully in the Turkish language. The inclusion of vocals is a first for the group. Appearing on several tracks are exotic instruments, such as the saz, a Turkish stringed instrument; the kaval, an end-blown Bulgarian flute; and the Bulgarian tambura, a fretless instrument with a vaguely sitar-like sound. Many jazz and fusion musicians have attempted to work with non-Western musical elements, but very few have achieved this kind of authentic synthesis. The Paradox Trio's overtures to the East are based not on faddish religiosity or empty multicultural posturing, but on thorough knowledge and mastery of the forms with which they've chosen to work. The result is entirely unpretentious and entirely musical.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler