Alex Kolosov - guitar
Lev Lebedev - clarinet
Vladimir Ivanov - keyboards
Andrey Rozdobudov - drums
Michal Urbaniak - violin
This is the debut album by the group Big Sky, formed and led by veteran Russian guitarist / composer Alex Kolosov. The group also includes clarinetist Lev Lebedev, keyboardist Vladimir Ivanow and drummer Andrey Razdobudov. A special guest, Polish Jazz violinist Michal Urbaniak, appears on five of the eight tracks, all of which were composed by the leader. The album was recorded at the legendary Rainbow studio in Oslo, celebrated for its fabulous sound quality and ambience.
The music is quite typical Jazz-Rock Fusion, strongly based in Blues and incorporating some World Music influences. The presence of the clarinet adds an unusual dimension to the overall sound of the group, as the delicate tone of the clarinet contrasts with the distorted guitar, which dominates the proceedings. Urbaniak's violin parts are definitely the highlight of the entire recording and Lebedev's parts, although mostly brief, are also delightful.
The album suffers from several disadvantages; First the lack of a bass player, which would add some kind of basic rhythmic pulse to the music, which the drums and keyboards are not capable of providing and without which the music simply lacks the drive it should have. Than the sound of the guitar, which is highly distorted and condensed, is simply unpleasant, especial since it does not change an iota almost for the entire duration of the album. And inviting Urbaniak to play on the album simply emphasizes the colossal difference in the level of the musicianship between him and the regular members of the group.
Altogether this is not a bad album, which Fusion fans might enjoy, but unfortunately not good enough to become a part of the Fusion canon. But considering the fact that Western listeners are rarely exposed to Russian Jazz, this might be worth investigating.
By Adam Baruch