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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the Eda Zari website  Eda Zari - Statement [Intuition - 2002]

Former dictator Enver Hoxha put up 700,000 bunkers for three million Albanians. Extremely paranoid Hoxha closed his country hermetically and isolated his people from the outside world. The linernotes of Statement presents it as music from the “Land Of Bunkers”.

Luckily, nutcases like Hoxha can’t bring the free spirits like that of Eda Zari down. She grew up in the surroundings of the Lela dynasty, the most famous and the best ensemble of traditional Albanian music around (they made one, stunning CD under the French name “Famille Lela de Përmet”). After finishing musicschool in Tiranë she moved to Germany for political reasons. She broadened her musical horizon by singing all kinds of music including pop, classical and jazz. The fact that she is ‘Culture Ambassador of Albania” now proves how things changed in Albania (although there’s still a long way to go). She also has helped a lot of charitative organisations.

Eda Zari on her recent CD Statement she combines her roots from Albania with somewhat slick jazz. At first I had some doubts about this slickness, but after a few listens I got used to it, or maybe opened myself up a bit. It’s far from tasteless, it’s just that they enter some grounds that border on the jazz I really don’t like. The ease with which she mixes the two traditions makes this album an real adventure though.

Statement features the entire Lela Ensemble and they pop up several times on the album with their typical ‘ISO’ vocals and ‘kaba’s’. It’s amazing how natural it blends with the poppy jazz. The sorrowful and melancholic tradition is beautiful and stands strong in the environment of the jazztrio of piano, bass and drums. The excellent performance of Ensemble clarinettist Vladimir Gica, albeit his traditional background, seems to adapt easily to the jazz-environment. He keeps the Albanian feel alive during the entire CD with his beautiful playing. Especially in the slow and tender ballad Tribute To “Cobani”, which is dedicated to Remzi Lela, the clarinet virtuoso that played on the Famille CD and who passed away 8 years ago.

Eda is an amazing singer who sings mostly Albanian on Statement. Graciously and smoothly her voice bends in all kinds of directions. The material presented is partly based on traditional themes and composed, strongly rooted in the tradition, whether that be jazz or folk or something undefinable. The instrumentation is free and grabs whatever fits in.

This crossover might appeal to people not used to the unique Albanian tradition, which can be a harsh listen to the untrained ear. The Western jazz-element makes it easier to stomach. Purists will probably cringe, but more adventurous listeners might enjoy this friendly, romantic and melancholic new blend.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

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