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Peasant Songs by Lemon Juice Quartet

Here is an interesting concept. The music of Erie Satie and Bela Bartok performed by an acoustic quartet of a guitarist and trumpeter from Israel, a bassist from Brooklyn and a drummer from Canada. World music anyone?

The opening cut, "Bear Dance (10 Easy Pieces No. 10)," has an almost Klezmer feel; rest assured this is not cliché music. On Satie’s "Trumpets of the Rosicrucian Order," guitarist Eval Maoz introduces the piece, melds with trumpeter Avishai E. Cohen, and resolves with an inventive solo under which drummer Kevin Zubek and bassist Shanir Ezrea Blumenkranz, both veterans of work with John Zorn, prop a brilliant underpinning. The three sections of Bartok’s Hungarian Peasant Songs are performed with a precise sort of cacophony. This is not to infer that the sections are the musical equivalent of anarchy. This is well developed and executed. The playing is exceptional in all instances. Cohen’s trumpeting on the final section of the Peasant Songs is gorgeous. He has worked with the likes of Ira Sullivan, Dave Liebman and Clark Terry over the years. He’s clever and technically able to stretch without losing the soulfulness of the instrument.

Bassist Blumenkranz sets up Satie’s "On A Latern," a piece that takes introspective giant steps. On the bouncy "Dried Embryos," Satie is given a sort of brass band on helium interpretation, and somehow the quartet makes the reprise section of "Hungarian Peasant Song No. 6" sound like a cross between Chuck Berry and Donald Byrd.

This is not your father’s jazz record. It’s not even your uncle’s or your niece’s jazz recording. This is an experimental jazz view of music from another era performed by a wholly fearless quartet of excellent musicians. This is challenging and adventurous music that defies easy categorization. It requires open ears and a penchant for peering into, if not the future, then at least a side road.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Lemon Juice Quartet
  • CD Title: Peasant Songs
  • Genre: World Music
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Piadrum
  • Rating: Three Stars
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