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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

CD Review: Zhenya Strigalev – Blues for Maggie

Zhenya Strigalev (alto sax, soprano sax, alto box, electronics); Federico Dannemann (guitar); Linley Marthe (bass guitar, keyboards) & Eric Harland (drums)
(Review by Russell)
Blues for Maggie is Zhenya Strigalev’s fourth album for Michael Janisch’s Whirlwind Recordings label and it is a winner. The use of electronics could be an issue for some listeners but stay with this album if for no other reason than to be blown away by the virtuosity of all four musicians on Take Off Socks, all twenty minutes and twenty-five seconds of it. This ‘tour de force’ is the fourth track of seven and it opens with guitarist Federico Dannemann playing his socks off over a killer bass and drum groove. You could be forgiven for thinking that that was the highlight, but no, Zhenya Strigalev weighs in on soprano blowing like there’s no tomorrow all the while riding on that bass and drum groove set up and maintained by the brilliant pairing of Linley Marthe and Eric Harland. And that’s it, or so you think until Eric Harland gives a percussion masterclass the like of which has rarely been captured on shellac, vinyl, tape or CD. Blues for Maggie was recorded in concert and in the studio; fortunately, Harland’s epic contribution was in front of an audience at Porgy and Bess in Vienna and there is a palpable sense that something special was happening on the night.  
Happy Professors swings with Dannemann’s deft, fizzing lines referencing an earlier era and this sits perfectly within the album’s overall knowing retro sound – Dannemann pre jazz-rock, Marthe right-in-the-jazz-rock pocket once the province of Jaco Pastorius. Interestingly Linley Marthe had the honour of playing in a late-career line-up of Joe Zawinul’s band. Strigalev plays with energy, enjoyment in making music, and if you can forgive the distraction of his effects (he has invented what he calls his ‘alto box’), Blues for Maggie is certainly one for those who appreciate virtuosi at work.

And who, exactly, is Maggie? Step forward one Maggie Black, inveterate supporter of jazz. She and Strigalev met at a Ronnie Scott's jam session, they hit it off, Black subsequently becoming London's Pannonica to Russian-born Strigalev and her patronage continues to be a key element nurturing touring and recording projects. Legend has it Black 'likes to stay at shows until 3.00am.' Don't we all?! 

Blues for Maggie by Zhenya Strigalev is available now on Whirlwind Recordings (WR4720).  
The album launch is set for March 28th at the Vortex in London. It should be noted that there will be a different line-up on the night to that heard on the CD. 
Russell

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