Blesok no. 91, July-August, 2013
“7 Stories” for Seven Moods
On the first solo album by our famous drummer Goce Stevkovski, titled “7 Stories”, which gives a new outlook on our musical scene
One Friday night, during this year’s Skopje Summer Festival, the lovely ambience of Suli An in the Old Bazaar was filled with the sounds of the jazz septet led by the Macedonian drummer Goce Stevkovski, a new band created by already renown musical names working primarily in the realm of jazz. Quite expectedly, as on other occasions (we’ve grown accustomed to seeing the members of this new septet individually, taking part in other formations), the band bequeathed us with an inspiring, even innovative evening, whence music warmed the hearts of those present. The septet, made of exceptional musicians from different generations that bring together their insofar experiences, both home and abroad, on different European jazz stages, came to promote Goce Stevkovski’s first solo album, titled “7 Stories”, recently published by Password Production.
Apart from Stevkovski, who authored all of the seven compositions on the album, and plays the drums, this new formation, for the very first time joins the creative forces of Trajche Velkov (trumpet), Kire Kuzmanov (alto saxophone), Ivan Ivanov (tenor saxophone and flute), Aleksandar Ikonomov (double bass, though during the said concert promotion of the album Oliver Josifovski stood for Ikonomov on the bass), Damir Imeri (keyboards) and Sashko Nikolovski (trombone), with Oscar Salas, the Cuban-born percussionist who for the past two years has lived and created in Macedonia, as a special guest. After his collaboration with other musical groups and artists of note, including Kiril Dzajkovski, Nikola Kodjobashija, D.N.O., Foltin, Bodan Arsovski and the Ezgija Orchestra, Archangel, Last Expedition, Project Zhlust, Goce Stevkovski has decided to set sail to the sea of solo music. After a decade and a half of successful collaborations, he finally gets to prove himself as a composer too. The album titled “7 Stories” is certainly the product of all his accumulated artistry and knowledge, which Stevkovski worked painstakingly on over the years, crafting it continuously, so as to culminate in an explosion of creativity over the last few years.
At its onset, with the cover theme, the album’s entire atmosphere comes seeping in. In a sense, the album follows a program character, as the titles of the compositions paint its contents. The titles – “7 Rivers”, “7 Days”, “7 Dwarfs”, “7 Sins”, “7 Wonders”, “7 Mountains” – give the album a fairy-tale-like structure. The beginning is rather striking; the theme is carried by the horn section, something that continues further into the record. The wind instruments do in fact provide the core to the musical stories. At first, the album strikes a notable revisionist character, due to the ambience reminiscent of the 1970s. However, at the same time, the album pays homage to YU-music, i.e., the effects of film and culture in general produced during the days of the former Yugoslav federation, a period that many still see as the best of times. Therefore, the music of “7 Stories” radiates optimism, as it transpires a kind of romantic outlook, coupled by seduction and a deep sense of love. The second theme travels through the terrain of the so-called swing blues, taking us one decade back, whilst the third one opens us to a recognizable Afro-Cuban style that the percussions of Oscar Salas set to a true Latin mood. By the time “7 Stories” comes to a close, jazz aficionados would definitely have the opportunity to dance to classical jazz standards, but also to travel or dream through various moods, to listen to music whence the multiple improvisations and masterful solos of all the participating musicians are equally impressive.
What sets Goce Stevkovski’s first album apart is the fusion of all the participating musicians. And what a refreshing mix it is – the horn section consists of young musicians hailing from the prestigious school in Gratz, and who have come to enrich the Macedonian jazz scene; then, there is Aleksandar Ikonomov on the double bass, who too has passed through the same school a few years back and currently resides in New York, as well as the almost veteran performers Sashko Nikolov and Damir Imeri, who have for a number of years been part of the Big Band and our musical life in general. These musicians create quite an unordinary and rather particular fusion of many different influences. Notably, the album comes across as a reflection on the great jazz numbers and jazz musicians from the 1950s all the way to the 1980s, such as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock or Charles Mingus, however, fused by Stevkovski’s and his band members’ individual creative production.
Without a doubt, “7 Stories” has enriched immensely the Macedonian jazz production, by offering a new outlook on our musical scene.
Translated by: Bela Gligorova