This is a most unusual recording. A jazz quartet comprised of soprano and tenor-saxophonist Albin Brun, Patricia Draeger on accordion, bassist Claudio Strebel and drummer Marco Kappeli joins forces with three singers from the group Akana (Irena Kotvitskaja, Rusia and Nadzeya Tschuhunova) to create a unique fusion of jazz from Switzerland with traditional Belarusian vocals.
The voices of the three singers are quite haunting and clearly of another world. They mostly perform ancient songs of pagan Belarus, words and melodies that are sometimes more than a thousand years old. Their harmonies are colorful and sound both modern and ancient.
While the singers stick to their parts, Brun (who also plays accordion, flute and duduk on one song apiece) and Draeger take solos along the way during instrumental passages, while Straebel and Kappeli are excellent in a supportive role. It is fair to say that these songs have never been interpreted as jazz before. The musicians sound inspired by the fresh material as do the vocalists by their accompaniment.
Somehow this most unusual fusion (which was far from inevitable) is a success, succeeding both musically and in its uniqueness.
-- Scott Yanow