Hristo Vitchev Quartet: Familiar Fields (2013)
New Age jazz from a guitarist very much in the Pat Metheny tradition. Hristo Vitchev was born in Bulgaria but now livesas do a great many other New Agersin San Francisco. He wrote the music on this album some time ago but says the songs "were constantly searching for their own voice, their own identity, and their own place in this multi- dimensional sonic universe."
So he has now kindly given them a CD all of their own.
The songs are dreamily repetitive and while on occasion the "m" in that adjective needs to be changed an "r," there's still much of interest.
"The Mask Of Agamemnon," for example, is built on a hauntingly lyrical progression and features solid solos from the leader and pianist Weber Iago, who was born Weber Ribeiro Drummond in Rio de Janeiro but changed his name "in homage to the Roma people."
He wears a turban because he is currently a Sikh. A New Age publication, Mindful Magazine, recently hailed him as a "world famous pianist." This may be a trifle premature but he is very good.
The title song is in two parts. Iago states the theme with embellishments, underpinned by Dan Robbins' bass. Robbins then takes over briefly before Vitchev comes in with a delicately constructed solo that always reflects the spirit of the piece. The theme is restated against a dark chord progression before a fade into Part Two. Here the mood, largely handled by Iago, is gently nostalgic. Vitchev contributes a nicely understated solo towards close of play.
On the sleeve he describes how it felt to hear this and his other compositions take shape: "I felt as if I was walking through Familiar Fields yet everything I saw along the way I saw for the first time. As we played note after note, I realized that the music had finally found its resting place, its new life, filled with its own emotions, memories and many colorful characters..""
Track Listing: Ballad For The Fallen; Wounded By A Poison Arrow; The Prophet's Daughter; They Are No More; Familiar Fields Part 1; Familiar Fields Part 2; The Mask Of Agememnon; The Fifth Season; Willing To Live.
Personnel: Hristo Vitchev: guitar; Weber Iago: piano; Dan Robbins: bass; Mike Shannon: drums.
Record Label: First Orbit Sounds