Phoenix by Vasko Atanasovski

Release date: November 11, 2020
Label: MoonJune Records

Vasko Atanasovski is someone you may or may not be familiar with. He is a composer, maestro, and a saxophonist from Slovenia. He has collaborated with bands and artists such as; Marc Ribot, Hindi Zahara, Vasil Hadzimanov, and Living Colour. Between Jazz, Rock, Classical, and various forms of music, Vasko has released 13 albums and received critical acclaim from audiences and critics alike.

That and his latest release from the MoonJune label entitled Phoenix, showcases not just Vasko’s arrangements, but the Adrabesa Quartet lends Vasko a helping hand with one of the most insane yet high-energetic vibes that deliver these eruptive compositions with an organic atmosphere. Alongside Vasko, the Adrabesa Quartet considers Simone Zanchini on Accordion, Bodek Janke on Drums and Tabla, Michel Godard on Tuba and Serpent and special guest cellist, Vasko’s 17-year old son; Ariel Vei Atanasovski.

‘Meeting’ gives Simone, Ariel, and Bodek a chance to take you into the streets of Paris with a romantic crescendo before Ariel kicks off into a full gear mode to give his dad a chance to lift-off throughout our solar system. Both ‘The Partisan Song’ and ‘Yellow Sky’ are marching militant grooves with an intensive tango exercise.

One is in the style of John Coltrane’s ‘My Favorite Things’ while the other track gives Vasko’s sax crying out in the middle of the night before walking down into the streets of a Klezmer vibration as it heads into the ocean with Simone’s accordion. ‘Green Nymph’ takes place in a deserted ghost town that makes you feel lonely and being the last survivor on Earth.

With cello and accordion setting the mood of a quiet scenario, you can feel a pin drop happening at any moment as ‘Balet’ goes into a circulated loop with some heated confrontations between the sax and accordion. Janke’s Tuba solo comes kicking with Godard’s drumming as he follows him back into the coda that gives Vasko and Simone raising the roof.

‘Concerto Epico’ is the quartet paying nod to Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville’. It’s joyous, exciting, clattering, and sections that have these stop-and-go sequences before segues into this Free-Jazz section by channeling the styles of Lol Coxhill and Captain Beefheart as Janke takes center stage on the Tabla with ‘Thornica’ by taking us into the sounds of Indian music and then travelling towards the landscapes of Egypt.

Phoenix is like a flame that Vasko has unleashed to his listeners. And the Quartet pushes the envelope as far as they can go. It can be challenging and tricky at the same time, but you can tell that Phoenix is quite the ride that MoonJune has unlocked its cage to make it sound like an adventure waiting to happen.

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