Of Light And Shadows – Hristo Vitchev Quartet (2017)
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“Of Light And Shadows” is a very apt title for this very image-inspiring soundscape of a CD, because it is sort of like a voyage with the band exploring the sound studies that are the songs on this really well crafted record. They are not so much dependent on melody as mood, and each tune shows the various band members trying out different ways to work over the structure of the song. The title track tells the first chapter to the story, and includes a melodic and interesting solo from Vitchev over the twists and turns of its’ chord progression.

“The Shortest Wavelength” sets a mystical hypnotic piano swirl of sound from Jasnam Daya Singh (Weber Iago), after which then the driving 9/8 riff begins. Vitchev’s guitar lays out the equally mysterious melody, then there’s a very nice bass solo, followed with drummer Mike Shannon driving the groove over the “four then five” rhythmic grouping of the main riff. Bassist Dan Robbins gets to show his considerable melodic soloing all over the tune.

An interesting mid tempo churner, “Selective Absorption” features a great drum solo from Shannon over a repeating vamp. “At Your Side” is the first romantic moment in the collection here, with a gorgeous melody played with extreme sensitivity by Hristo in the A section, wth Singh’s equally wistful reading of the B section. The whole thing features Robbins’ really sensitive upright bass playing; and Singh’s piano solo here is amazing crafted, sensitive and hits all the great subtitles of the harmony.

The rolling “Prelude to Prismic Dance” and “Prismic Dance” are in some ways the definitive soundscape tracks of the record. The dance is a 7/8 groove that the whole band collectively improvise on, and drummer Shannon’s tasteful and musical driving and shadings on the whole record are sort of personified here. Hristo’s soloing is burning as it approaches the apex of the solo, and then it’s back to the churning groove and a really interesting moody solo from Jasnam. 

The winner of the “most interesting title award” on the record has got to be “Pentachromatic Butterflies” – it’s hard to come up with good names for instrumental music, but what a great image this title paints. Bassist  Robbins is featured here a lot, and there’s a great wide interval solo for Vitchev following that. Singh delivers his customary well crafted solo and then the tune pulls back to the opening section for a moody exit. The aptly named “Portrait of a Love Forgotten” is another example of the subtle use of harmony to make a slow rolling melody really work. The opening theme is beautifully developed and is a great example of evolving a theme.

“Partial Darkness, gives things a slightly dark and a little menacing uptempo way to take the record out. It shows why drummer has this gig, because he propels everything constantly while never taking over, he’s virtuosic while always supportive in his playing, which is hard to find in a drummer. Speaking of virtuosity, check out the electric bass solo here, this shows that Mike Robbins is up there what any bass player you could name. Hristo delivers his own burning solo as well as the tune fires up, with Singh doing a short unaccompanied section to set the stage for the return to the main theme.

Overall this is a great record to put on late at night or on a rainy day when you are ready to really do some deep listening. All and all, it’s all about fantastic players playing great compositions keeping the needs of the music first, which is the highest praise musicians.

Doug Perkins

Nov. 2, 2018

www.jazzguitarsociety.com

For video on the Hristo Vitchev Quartet, go here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV25Yu2Noe8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht133cJlZiY

For more info on Hristo Vitchev and his music, go to: http://hristovitchev.com/en/