A ‘five-member’ ensemble, the International Blazin’ Quartet is led by Bosnian born and Paris, France, based drummer, composer, arranger and educator Srdjan Ivanovic. Blazin’ Quartet and their special guest maestro flutist Magic Malik, delivers on their 4th studio album “Sleeping Beauty“, a very profound, organic, timeless and articulate sound. Nine tracks of unpredictable, potent, refreshingly divorced from the sonic status quo while exceedingly brilliant creative mettle are offered, awaiting for the attentive listener’s pleasure.
Seldom does such an ensemble jazz cast weave so seamlessly, yet play with such heartfelt emotion, conviction and, at times, abandon. With an inherent, extraordinary chemistry on display, moments of the most rare, exquisite beauty materialize while ascending to the fore. A delightful, resounding lack of pretense, combined with abounding imagination and sparkling, upper-echelon performances, contributes to an album that’s as fresh and ingenious as ensemble jazz gets, from every facet.
Praised by Downbeat Magazine as “a band that twists and tweaks conventions” Blazin’ Quartet has been pushing the boundaries of improvised, ethnographies and electronic jazz since it’s creation in Amsterdam in 2008.
The multi-national Blazin’ Quartet features Andreas Polyzogopoulos (Greece; trumpet), Federico Casagrande (Italy; guitar), Mihail Ivanov (Bulgaria; double bass), Srdjan Ivanovic (Bosnia & Herzegovina; drums, keyboards, compositions, arrangements), and special guest Magic Malik (Ivory Coast; flute).
Previous Blazin’ Quartet’s releases:
La mer, la pierre, la terre, l’oiseau (2017)
Jalkan Bazz (2012)
Finding A Way (2012)
This is a very special MoonJune releases for the label’s honcho Leonardo Pavkovic, the 4th artists from countries once part of his native Yugoslavia, after Dusan Jevtovic (Serbia), Vasil Hadzimanov (Serbia/Macedonia) and Vasko Atanasovski (Slovenia). Srdjan was born in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Leonardo was born in Jajce, a historic town, which was once upon a time, the first capital of the Kingdom of Bosnia, in 14th century.
SLEEPING BEAUTY EPK youtu.be/t_2uG8JMwzs
In the words of Srdjan Ivanovic:
My life has consisted of many moves, changing countries, neighbourhoods and appartements, more often than I wanted to. I’ve come to realise that what has meant home for me is music, and in particular the music I hear in my head. This music is personal but if you wanted to categorize it I guess you would say that it’s rooted in the Balkans (as in the mix of strong cultures of the east and the west, not just as in ‘’party brass band music’’) and is expressed through Jazz, and Jazz for me means freedom and expression, that’s what I fell in love with, the freedom and expression that be-bop brought and that flourished into many different sounding music creations.
Blazin’ Quartet has transformed over time in many ways, as the 3 previous albums and this new one might tell you. After moving to Paris I wanted to reinvent the band, find musicians that would bring something new but yet stay true to the innovative, ad- venturous spirit of the music we previously made. The musicians were chosen to fit this music and the ideas I had but also the music was chosen to fit these great musicians. They are all masters of their instruments and very strong personalities and I wanted to give as much of that as possible, within my own musical vision.
I also distilled my previous ideas about making an album and went for a photographic approach to music on tape – capturing a vibe, not looking for a perfect take. I was inspired by the idea of sleeping beauty, that only the awakened mind sees. To put it in another way – I never fully understood why a diamond is so much more valuable than the so many beautiful stones that you find on any beach. Anyway, with this album I wanted to deliver music that I felt was right, without giving in to preconceptions of what a ‘’jazz’’ album should be and let the musicians on it shine in their best light. I was really happy that an unexpected trumpet solo by Andreas – later turned duo when I overdubbed the keyboards – was a track that I loved and kept. Or that an unplanned guitar solo, by Federico, would end up on the album. On the tunes with Magic Malik, Rue des Balkans and Guchi (another unplanned event at the recording session, a tune from Jalkan Bazz, one of our previous albums) we again went for the vibe and the journey.
The title track, Sleeping Beauty is inspired by my wife Catherine. It’s not a typical decision to start an album with a ballad and to have a drum-trumpet free-jazz battle instead of a solo but I think that it actually makes sense. The birds in the intro and outro were recorded at our lockdown location, at dawn for the intro and at night fall for the outro. I was lucky enough to spend the lockdown in the coun- tryside, near Sancerre in France, and more than ever before spend three months in isolation and close contact with nature.
In the last years I have been listening so much to Ennio Morricone that I had to do something about that. I’m a big fan of melody – which I think is the king of music – and Ennio Morricone was a king of melody! The Man With the Harmonica is a very well known tune of his and I think we managed to stay true to it, without changing much, and at the same time transform it into some- thing almost unrecognisable. So, although the music didn’t really change, the vibe is not anymore the vibe of the duel between Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda in ‘’Once Upon a Time in the West’’ but instead it’s ‘’ours’’, I guess something more on the mediterranean side. The other tune ‘’A l’aube du cinquième jour’ is a tune that just with the melody takes you on a journey, proving my earlier point about melody! Again, we didn’t change much but gave it our own rendition that I think makes it very personal.
I met illustrator Severine Scaglia at the playground as a friend-parent and again, I thought that that’s a place as good as any to discover a great artist. I admired her collages for both their aesthetics and their message which illustrated so well her subjects. I think that this cover illustrates closely this music, a collage of very simple elements that through the illustrator’s vision awaken in the composition as a whole.
Finally, this album is a realization of my people who believed in it, my countryman Leonardo Pavkovic of MoonJune Records, and the team at Le Coolectif, as well as press agent Valerie Mauge, and booker Sabrina Ouyang, who are helping bring it to you. As much as we can do, we need people to help us bring forward what we do.
When initially asked to talk about this new album, my first thought was to say that beauty ‘’sleeps’’ in everything but when I think again I would rather say that everything is beautiful but we are ‘’asleep’’ and don’t experience it. But, sometimes, somebody creates something that touches us, wakes us up, and for a moment we see everything shining in it’s true light. I hope this recording does that to you.