A version of ‘Last Snow’ above, the seventh track of Krai
Arkady Shilkloper / Vadim Neselovskyi Krai *** NeuKlang
French horn isn’t the usual ‘horn’ referred to where jazz and improvised music are concerned in small groups. Yet it’s more than good once more to hear a record featuring this particular horn virtuoso, Arkady Shilkloper (of Moscow Art trio fame), also playing the even more esoteric alphorn. His playing partner, the pianist Vadim Neselovskyi grew up in Ukraine and later while a student at Berklee became a member of Gary Burton’s band. Eleven compositions in all, some by Shilkloper, some the pianist’s, some co-written, all recorded over a few days in late-June this year at one of the great ‘rooms’ in Europe, the Bauer Studios in Ludwigsburg and issued on the studio’s house label. It’s engrossing from the very first track, ‘Spring Song’, Neselovskyi’s vision utilising an assertive expansiveness that channels flow and rhythmic adventure in the more open passages.
Song titles riff on alpine themes, snow, contradictory changes in light (‘Late Night Sunrise’) and more obliquely nationhood on ‘Russian Song’ the piano strings taking on almost a zither-like dimension in the introduction. Very romantic on ‘Krai’, the word of the title track in Ukrainian and Russian meaning a place or even border, very topical as a metaphor at the moment with the war waging for so long now in eastern Ukraine, an inescapable thought. Neselovskyi’s opening to ‘Prelude for Vibes’ is really beautiful but that Brahms-meets-Bill Evans intimation melts away and on ‘AlperiDuo 2’ it’s more of an improv sensibility. More uniformly an all-pervasive, and persuasive chamber music work, that heady atmosphere prevails to work its undoubted charms. Stephen Graham
Released on 23 October