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Nedim Nalbantoglu - Robert de Brasov Trio
L'Odeur du Vent

By Srajan Ebaen
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Nedim Nalbantoglu ~ Robert de Brasov Trio "L'Odeur du Vent"

Compact Disc Compact Disc: Al Sur ALCD 248 Compact Disc


Genre: Sinti-Jazz influenced violin/accordion fare

  Mixing up influences of Grappelli-esque violin Jazz, Romanian gypsy lautari improvisations and Bulgarian wedding music, L'Odeur du Vent or The Wind's Scent is the second album by Turkish violin wizard Nalbantoglu. He once again defies pigeon-holing and thus logically follows his diverse musical past exploits that include Bach, classical Ottoman music and a good deal of Charlie Parker. Robert de Brasov, né Jon Faur, built up his accordion chops as a salaried musician in a Romanian truck factory. The fall of the Ceausescu dictatorship allowed him to immigrate to Paris where he's become the musical director of the Circque Romanes since. Rounding out the present trio formation is Ginel Negoï on double bass.

Given these ingredients, expectant listeners won't be surprised to encounter breakneck virtuosity nor those strangely moody harmonic progressions that make up Transylvanian Gypsy repertoire. They'll hope to be romanced with sophisticated Jazz Manouche arpeggios and hard-swinging, body-slapping bass runs. What no familiarity with this musical genre could possibly predict is the diabolically dense, psychically merged level of ensemble playing. It far transcends the actual head count to sound like a much bigger formation.

The album opens with "Din dobrogea", a runaway Cossack fiddle number straight out of Taras Bulba. The following "Figuri" goes into overdrive with highly virtuosic gipsy-flavored violin-accordion interplay and a modal improvisational bridge by Nalbantoglu that veers into Turkish Taqsim. "Ce-am ubit în viata mea!" proves that the Blues isn't peculiar to the Mississippi Delta when Roberto intones a melancholy Romani song above Ginel' slaphappy limping bass lines. Eventually Nalbantoglu sidetracks the mood with a slip-slidin' swingin' Jazz solo before Roberto remembers his sadness and reprises both lyrics and moody accordion chords.

"Danse bulgare" is a fast-driving reel, with the accordion mimicking the rhythm of a cantering horse and Nalbantoglu engaging in the kind of boisterous bow workout that has one flash on horseback hordes practicing their musical prowess in full attack formation. The next trio of tunes shifts scenery into the milieu dominated by Stephane Grappelli. It opens suitably with a dedication, "Pour Grapelli", a cannily syncopated dedication to that French lion of the Jazz violin. Composed by his Turkish admirer, it receives an injection of dashing muscularity and vigor the elder statesman had early on transcended with the relaxation of sheer elegance.

"Romance N." is a wistfully slow, quasi Musette tune that quivers with that quintessentially French savoir-faire of pouting beauties nursing their javas while waiting for the artiste-de-jour to notice them. "Danse du serpent" ups the seductive subtext, with Nalbantoglu's violin performing a veritable striptease filled with suggestive flutters, overplayed accents and note-bending come-hither slurs before the tempo accelerates to drop all pretenses at artful seduction and just runs amok. It then doubles up yet again and turns into outright frenzied acrobatics.

The title tune "L'Odeur du vent" is a gypsified version of an Irish jig while the concluding "Un beau souvenir" opens as showcase for Brasov's consummate accordion mastery before Nalbantoglu's violin entry recalls Romanian primases replete with flageolet chirping bird effects and very unconventional blue-note Jazz underpinnings.

With all this top-notch musicianship, artistic inventiveness, drum-tight ensemble playing and effervescent showmanship, L'Odeur du Vent will please the musical sophisticate or curious adventurer who habitually favors the road less traveled and only demands that those leading the way promise a good time. Fulfilling this qualifier with a grinning shoulder shrug, this ensemble invites you to dive headfirst into the world of the Balkan Rom and thus partake of their passionate and unrestrained wild ways. It's one album I keep coming back to time and again. I relish it as one of those masterpieces that withstands repeat scrutiny without wearing out its novelty. I dare hope you'd feel the same.








































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