Black Sea Fire
Full Price (52 mins)
Several things about this record will make the curious listener well disposed from the off: firstly, despite its rich heritage, little music from Georgia outside its glorious tradition of polyphonic singing has made it onto an international release; second, alongside his Georgian core, guitarist Zaza Miminoshvili has recruited a high calibre band, including the breathtaking Bulgarian kaval flute master, Theodosii Spassov; thirdly, amongst the original compositions and pieces from regional stalwarts like Mikis Theodorakis, the liner notes describe track two, based around the coastal region of Adjara, with the immortal words “it is very hard for a small man in a large city to sell potatoes.” The music, unfortunately, doesn’t quite live up to this tantalising billing, unless what you are looking for is some heavy Weather Report-era jazz fusion alongside your Georgian folk. The playing is of a high standard, but ‘Sharatin’ is a case in point in where things could have gone with a bit more focus: the opening, with the band singing in rich-throated acapella harmonies, sends a shiver down the spine; the meandering fretless bass solo that interrupts it will having you reaching for the remote. Spassov’s own composition ‘Something Wonderful’ confounds this dodgy brew: his breathy kaval soars above the synth pads and bass with great aplomb, showing his masterful control and melodic ear. Acoustic Laz song ‘Gelino’ could be a delicious outtake from Kusturica’s Time of the Gypsies; ‘Temel’ could be the theme tune to Frasier dubbed into Georgian. Approach with care.