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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Robert Burger - City Of Strangers (Tzadik, 2009) ****½

I've always liked the Tin Hat Trio (Rob Burger, Carla Kihlstedt and Mark Orton), for their refreshing chamber-jazz synthesis of many styles, showing creative and intelligent musicianship without pretence. This album on Tzadik brings film music by Robert Burger, the accordionist, pianist, guitarist, organist, percussionist, banjoist, ukuleleist, harmonica-player, marimbaist, etc, accompanied by Eyvind Kang on viola, Max Moston on violin, Marc Ribot and Mark Orton on guitar on one track each, and Carla Kihlstedt on violin on one track too.

The album has 31 pieces of soundtrack for a movie that I haven't seen. The pieces are short (obviously), just snippets of music, evocating a mood essentially, but because of their short and concise form, they have to capture that mood in its bare essence, through some clearly delineated melodic lines and varying rhythms. The result is a kind of haiku in music : deep, with a feeling that still resonates long after the piece has stopped. In that sense Burger is a true magician : what you hear sounds familiar, you've heard it before, somehow, somewhere, it draws from folk, jazz, country, rock, world music, street music, ballroom dance music, film music, and many more styles whose definitions have disappeared into the blur of our collective musical memories, and well, to end, even some avant-garde, yet the combination makes it fresh, surprising, captivating. But blending styles is by itself a boring practice, but here's it's elevated to a high level because of the great skills in melody, rhythm and overall sound. The music makes a nice bridge between the music by the Tin Hat Trio and Evan Lurie, whose soundtracks I heartily recommend, especially Selling Water By The Side Of The River.

If you like snippets of music, that capture a mood in a few lines, whether sad, melancholy, joyful, distressing, resignated, and many more, carefully crafted, and flawlessly performed, you will like this. You will like this very much.

© stef


Ballroom Dance said...

I am also a Robert Burger's music fan. :) Great post keep it up.

Ballroom Dance Teacher