Lop Lop Records may not yet have the cachet of, say, the other 800-pound gorillas of European Jazz like Intakt or ECM, but they are a very astute group with a repertory any label would envy. Even those other two.
The Global Village Orchestra, chaired by bassist Tijtze Vogel, is a dizzying amalgam of fellow travelers from Senegal, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Morocco, Iran, Uiguristan (and I don't even know where that is... but then I come from a country whose current President couldn't name the Prime Minister of India when he was running for the job in 2000 -- Vajpayee, incidentally -- and a lot of pundits dismissed this at the time with "Oh, that's OK, I don't know who he is either"... er, moving on here...), and so forth. The result is a recording some 54 minutes in length that is the aural equivalent of a good William Burroughs novel (say, TICKET THAT EXPLODED): one simply has to let it rain down on one's skull and what sticks, sticks. What runs off this time, next time may not. Witness for example "Beduin," an undulating workout for Karim Eharruyen's ud (a stringed instrument from the Middle East), massed clarinets and flutes pronouncing a vaguely klezmer-like figure, and a wretched, tear-inducing vocal from Senegal's Mola Sylla;I have seldom heard such misery in a voice. Contrast that with the raucous familiarity of Turkey's Behsat Uvez, whosewinking Tuvan-like throatyness livens the opening "Sequence One." And my intense dislike for klezmer aside(unless it's played by John Zorn or Andy Statman), I have found another clarinetist who makes me slap my forehead and say, "Wow! This is cool!", no matter how Eastern European things get. And that would be Yugoslavian Akos Laki, who despite the other proceedings herein, will be noted whizzing around corners with a cheery insouciance and those wheedling melodies played with full gusto and no apologies.
It's the amalgam that amazes here, and there are no shortages of them. In "Tubab Magyar," Henk Spies' bass saxophone nimbly skips through a torturous motif as do the mountains in the Biblical phrase of renown, and Laki's "Blue Wedding" opens and closes with a melody for massed woodwinds that wouldn't have been out of place on a Glenn Miller album. What goes on in between is somewhat farther afield, but I'm reviewing this record. I'm not listening to it for you! I suppose that Miller paraphrase is the closest thing to a Jazz signifier we have here. If I had to put this CD anywhere in the store, and if I were CEO of Virgin Megastores instead of Richard Branson I would opt for simple alphabetical order, it would probably go in World Music. If you put a gun to my head. But Mark Alban Lotz' impressionistic flute work and Vogel's dancing bass drag us straight back towards the European classical tradition, so I just don't know. I do know you should visit Lop Lop's Web site last week if not sooner, and pick this up straightaway. And while you're at it, check out the CDs by Vogel and Lotz on the same label. I've written of them in previous e-issues of this mag.
We all know what tourists Americans are; with GLOBALISTICS you can get as touristy as you want and never have to get in line at the post office to renew your passport. And get all those shots. Some of which hurt.
by Ken Egbert
Jazz Now Interactive July 2004 Vol 14 No. 3 - Table of Contents