The selections on this CD were recorded in 1979. This isthe first USA recording by Roman. Roman passed away in 2002, butthis release helps to continue to spread the unique style that Romandeveloped.
Roman plays alto saxophone and flutes on the disc, support by fellowmusicians Phil Clendeninn (keyboards), Alex Blake (bass), Gerry Brown (drums),and Badal Roy (tabla).
We start out the disc with two tracks that are primarily built around fluteand ethnic percussion. Fata Morgana starts withinteresting ethnic percussion, and has flute come in with hauntingmelody. Then we get the flute breaking into a more expressive mode,while percussion maintains consistent ethnic mood. A few percussiveelements are added progressively. Almost African infeel. Not aggressive, but mesmerizing. MagicBirds starts with bird-like flute runs. Anotherflute is added, echoing and contradicting the original. Thenwe have a third track of flute. The stereo panning makes this quiteunique. About 2 minutes into the track, we begin to develop apattern and the runs become more melodic. With the multipleflute tracks, Roman builds a soothing feeling. Unique.
Body and Soul introduces more keyboard. Again, ahaunting feeling. Keyboards come in strong with a very dark mood,almost cathedral like. This melts into synthesizer work, andreturns to two tracks of flute. The flute again is the center focus,but the keyboards continue to darken the mood.
The title track introduces us to Roman's fusion side. With HeavySkies, percussion and drums set a good groove, with bass guitarfitting in with a nice slap line. Nothing fancy, butappropriate. We get Roman on the saxophone, and trading withthe synthesizer. Definitely a different feel from the firstthree tracks, and this would be more of an accessible sound to the casuallistener. The percussion keeps the ethnicfeel. The song floats into the sax solo nicely, and we get anice trade with the bass guitar groove. I like this one.
The tracks Toward Higher Lights and Elevationfeature more of Roman's classical side. Toward HigherLights brings us the sax with piano and bass. Ethnicpercussion is there and drums, which helps with building the mood.It sounds like plenty of fusion improvisation is going on towards the end.With Elevation, flute starts off alone. Piano isadded, with a bit of a dark feeling again. Classical in feel, buthaunting. No percussion or any other instruments. Veryadventurous in it's composition, but does maintain a chaoticcontinuity. I'd love to see this performed at a flute and pianorecital.
The CD ends with Combinations, a more Weather Reportinfluenced fusion tune. The tune features a very nice bass solo byAlex Blake, but I found the track a bit disappointing. A muddy mixand a lack of any real interesting moment, resulted in a weak closer to thedisc.
Roman Kunsman was an extremely talented musician, and this seven songdisc leaves no question about his desire to pursue his own unique ethnic jazzvoice. Heavy Skies has a late 70's vibe toit, based mostly on the synthesizer sounds used and the drum mix.But, it is more than obvious that Roman was making a musical statement all hisown. I would recommend this CD to anyone who enjoys some ofthe Miles Davis Bitch's Brew era free form fusion, as well as thosewho have an appreciation for ethnic influenced music. It's not foreveryone, and won't be heard in any elevator. Good stuff, for theopen mind, even if it's over 20 years old. I'll be listening to thisa few more times.