was something slightly off in him, like a Russian playing jazz"
was still a widely quoted sentence in the Western World when - it was
the first half of the '80s - the music from Eastern Europe started having
a wider circulation. Probably the first name that comes to mind is that
of the Ganelin Trio - and of Leo Feigin, the man who was mainly responsible
for our knowledge of jazz from the East; if we talk about rock music,
then it's the post-Velvet group called The Plastic People Of The Universe.
before the long article on (USA) Keyboard magazine (July 1987), before
Eno "discovered" Zvuki Mu and Pulnoc got an American contract
and a Rolling Stone review, a decisive role was played by a record label
from UK, ReR: first they started including "unorthodox music from
the East" in the ReR Quarterly - their magazine/record album combination;
then there was a dedicated label, Points East.
that period there are two albums of electroacoustic music that I'd definitely
like to see mentioned more often: Raab, by Jaroslav Krcek, and the album
that features the works Aide Memoire, Folk Music and Sonaty Slavickové
by George Katzer, Zygmunt Krause and Jaroslav Krcek. And while in my
opinion it can be said that the label Points East did not fully maintain
the promises it had made, it's true that just their being responsible
for our knowledge of the Latvian collective (from Riga) called ZGA was
well worth it. If ZGA (1989) was more a stimulating promise than a reality,
their highly original "home-made industrial music" was fully
realized on Zgamoniums ('91) and on the even better The End Of An Epoch
a bit funny to remember that while the part of the press that was more
aligned with the political Establishment made sometimes a "political"
use of the music (and the musicians) from the East - those being the
years of the Reagan Administration, and of his definition of Russia
as the "Empire Of Evil" - some of us were maybe a bit too
hesitant to call some of those albums "mediocre".
talking about mediocre, what about Hungarian group Kampec Dolores? I
had completely lost their traces after their first album, only to find
them again three years ago on a CD called A Bivaly Hátán,
a co-production by Bahia and ReR: the album was mediocre, mannered,
sterile, quite à la sing-along. Even more perplexing for me is
their new one, Koncert! Mostly recorded live, it has similar line-up
and repertory to those of the previous album, to which it adds percussionist
Grencsó István. Here we have a saxophone player who in
his best moments reminded me of Didier Malherbe on a bad night; a funky
rhythm section, complete with slappin' & poppin'; a guitar player
who by his use of echoes makes it apparent that he's heard of The Edge;
a singer who reminded me of Teresa De Sio. "Popular" melodies,
open-air parties arrangements, a genre - that a poster on the CD cover
calls Etnojazz - that's the perfect background for a dinner of Basmati
rice with fish and vegetables.
one question: why is the ReR logo on this rubbish?
Beppe Colli 2004
| March 9, 2004