The Rabbit and the Fallen Sycamore, the third album in a trilogy by singer-songwriter Kristo Rodzevski and his group of jazz progressives, was recently released by Much Prefer Records.
Mixed by celebrated producer Bill Laswell, "The Rabbit..." represents the fulfillment of a musically adventurous idea: Assemble seven world-class improvisers in a studio, establish an environment for pure music-making, and capture all on tape. Such is the essence - and beauty - of "The Rabbit..."
By partnering with core collaborators Mary Halvorson (guitar), Tomas Fujiwara (drums) and Michael Blanco (bass), then inviting contributions from Kris Davis (piano), Ingrid Laubrock (saxophone) and Brian Drye (trombone), Kristo fermented an intoxicating brew. The bubbling inventions are spontaneous performances without overdubs.
Once the group selected the best material, Laswell was called in to shape all. In a great sense, Laswell's touch (and ears) provide the sonic and musical template for the album. He is celebrated as a lover of musical hybrids and cross-pollinations. His legendary work with Herbie Hancock, Iggy Pop, John Zorn and Motörhead, among others, attests to his wide-angle views.
"The Rabbit..." boasts a melding of seemingly disparate influences, all living together sweetly - Eastern European folk, free jazz, punk and song-form narrative. Heard, too, is Kristo's affinity for the music of Tom Waits, Burt Bacharach and Jim O'Rourke. Critic Chris Brazier calls it "collision music."
Thematically, the album continues themes established in Kristo's earlier efforts, Batania (2015) and Bitter Almonds (2017). While those trilogy installments examined the deep feelings for his Macedonian grandmother and mother, "The Rabbit..." explores a transition - the fading significance of his past to his life in the USA.
Kristo's songs resonate in that gray area between nostalgia and expectation. There is passion here, tapping the most human of emotions, desire and suffering. The cover design by Ikue Mori (DNA) provides a visual analog to this provocative music.
01) Polyester Suit
02) Bucharest, 1913
03) Your Name
06) Meet Me Online
07) Out Of Key
10) The Rabbit and the Fallen Sycamore
Kristo Rodzevski is Macedonian-born vocalist, guitarist, and composer, based in New York City since 1999. He began as a street musician in Europe in the early 1990s. He was a founding member of an influential group of Macedonian musicians who would go on to form the bands Foltin and Ljubojna and perform at festivals throughout Europe.
Kristo's debut album, Batania, received positive reviews by the Wire, All About Jazz, Jazz Right Now, etc., and won plaudits as the best single of 2015, and was voted the second best album of that year by the Macedonian Kanal 103.
His second album, Bitter Almonds, features two songs soon to appear on Bikini Moon, a feature film by Academy-Award-nominated (director, writer, and visual artist Milcho Manchevski). [Video Here.]
Kristo has appeared on other film soundtracks, including Shadows (by Milcho Manchevski), To the Hilt (by Academy Award nominated director Stole Popov) and The War is Over (by Mitko Panov, a Palme d 'Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival).
He has had solo performances at Joe's Pub and Merkin Hall, and has performed as soloist with the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, at the Macedonian Opera and Ballet, New York City's Carnegie Hall.
Kristo's singing style has been described as "effortless," "velvety," and with "a masterful control of vocal micro-dynamics and access to emotional depth.