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Issue 1101

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Review

David Dower Trio: Mravka

David Dower Trio: Mravka

9

7.8

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UK release date 18.11.2022

Australian composer and pianist continues his love affair with all things Bulgarian in the shape of his new startling album, "Mravka", recorded whilst touring over there earlier in the year. Dower is joined by his agile rhythm section, comprising of Luke Fowler on bass and Matt Fisher on drums. This is the third album release from this dynamic trio.

"Selo" opens proceedings nicely with some beautiful harmonies emanating from a Bulgarian choir, before lead singer Rayna Vasileva takes over with crystal clear clarity. It’s an ambitious piece with sweeping piano flurries under a solid 12/8 groove, complete with a face-melting bass freakout, just for good measure!

Next up, "Kovanista" applies the kaval (ancient Bulgarian flute) to devastating effect and it works extremely well in the jazz trio’s signature jazz style - the drum vamp at the end really adds great suspense to proceedings. The interplay is fantastic as the flute dances around Dower’s strident and melodic playing, which is wild and fun.

Leading jazz vocalist Vesela Morova appears on the plaintive "Tell Me What You See". Morova is a vocalist with great clarity and diction, Dower blends in well as he sings and harmonises on the vocal melody, as well as executing a huge piano solo with humungous moments -this is a towering song and extremely well crafted. The mood changes dramatically with the evocative middle eastern sounding "Syanka". This includes a darting flute that shines over the hypnotic 9/8 feel with excellent percussion flurries upping the ante.

Continuing on from his pop deconstruction projects, having already given a-ha and ABBA a jazzy makeover, he's now working his way through the B's and here he delivers The Boomtown Rats classic, "I Don't Like Mondays". His imperious piano playing brings out the full melody of the song and it's an intriguing and impressive interpretation.

The consummate musicianship and compositional skills are widely apparent. Dower has excelled here and crafted some heart-wrenching moments. It’s an album that deserves to be heard live, to experience the true force of this exceptional and powerful trio.
Words Emrys Baird

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