Monday , February 26 2024
Elektra Kurtis combines jazz with other ethnic forms. Her mission is to integrate in a natural way these musical traditions and styles as related throughout her life.

Music Review: Elektra Kurtis & Ensemble Elektra – “Bridges from the East”

Composer, arranger, and violinist Elektra Kurtis integrates musical influences from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean on her recording Bridges from the East.  Rhythmic patterns vary from familiar folk dance tempos to irregular time signatures as the instruments move autonomous from one another.  There is a freedom expressed in Kurtis’ playing that breeds melodic forms uniquely of her own making.

A tribute to the sea god in Greek Mythology, “Triton” is an intense piece heavily loaded in the swirling squeals of the violins as Reggie Nicholson’s drumbeats pound and boom, moving into the gypsy-tinged “Hasaposerviko” as the violins contort into a whipping frenzy twining around the rivulets of Lefteris Bournias’ clarinet, displaying influences of Mediterranean folk.  The mournful tone of “Red Apple” has a familiar Eastern European folk motif that blossoms into a joyful celebration of snaking violins, clarinet twirls, and the grooving bass beats of Bradley Jones, showing Kurtis’ proclivity to transform a sad mood into a positive expression.

“Trebble Duet” has three phases, each layered with animated violins that move freely in a randomness that shows an unpredictable nature expressed in multiple rhythms, entwining and traveling parallel compelled by an independent will.  The steady cadence of the drumbeats along “Zeibekiko” offers support for the sensual winding of the violins, modulating a middle eastern flare along the melodic progressions which returns in “Kalamatianos” exuding an exotic tint in the furling violins.
The strings plump up to an operatic, sonorous level in “Eastern Caravan,” articulating vivid emotions along the narrative, then simmer down to a slow burning kindle in “Krakus,” which builds up to bright flame.  The comfy procession of the violins promenading across “East West” is adorned in the graceful squiggles of the clarinet, wrapping the melody in a cheerful atmosphere.  The recording maintains an upbeat slant through the buoyant vibe of the violins along “Bossa for Kitsa” complementing the relaxing swagger of the bass grooves.

Kurtis’ musical creations tread the line between harmony and improvisation as she and her band perform from instinct while playing in synchronicity with one another.  Integrating classic motifs with contemporary thinking, the compositions are uniquely of Kurtis and her band’s making.

Elektra Kurtis – violin, Curtis Stewart – violin, Lefteris Bournias – clarinet, Bradley Jones – bass, Reggie Nicholson – drums

“Triton,” “Hasaposerviko,” “Red Apple,” “334,” “Trebble Duet Nt. 1,” “Zeibekiko,” “August 7,” “Eastern Caravan,” “Like Rocks,” “Kalamatianos,” “Trebble Duet Nt. 2,” “Krakus,” “East West,” “Bossa for Kitsa,” “Trebble Duet Nt. 3,” “Summer’s End”

About susanfrancesny

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in eastern Long Island.

Check Also

Mary Lauren as Gypsy Rose Lee in 'Gypsy' at the Secret Theatre (Reiko Yanagi)

Theater Review (NYC): ‘Gypsy’ at the Secret Theatre

The scrappy Secret Theatre, whose snazzy production of 'Cabaret' was an Off-Off-Broadway highlight last year, has done well by another classic big musical with a sinewy 'Gypsy.'