Hristo Vitchev is not a jazz musician, not a jazz guitarist but simply an artist as his magnificent oil paintings of the release covers can attest. Simple hues of rich vibrant color and texture that are in perfect harmony with the impressionistic images that Vitchev paints with his music.
Colors you can hear...
Vitchev has teamed with long time friend and symbiotic musical alter ego Weber Iago to continue their lyrical exploration of the harmonic journey all musicians are attempting to take but with few succeeding as well as this formidable duo. When considering modern jazz guitarists, technical proficiency and the usual cast of characters leaps to mind and this is to be expected. The unique brilliance of Vitchev is rooted in the conceptual ideas that form Heartmony. Hristo Vitchev plays as the cultural end result of his life experiences. Simply put, Vitchev plays more so from the the heart than he does the head.
A riff on passion...
Having written numerous articles concerning jazz improvisation along with a revolutionary book for guitarists entitled "Between The Voicings: A New Approach to Chord Building" there is no questioning the technical proficiency of this most prolific of guitarist/composers. Heartmony is a sonic mosaic pieced together from heartfelt feelings and emotions carried through time and communicated in an incredibly heart warming and emotional presentation that exemplifies the zen concept of less is more perhaps as well as any recording of the last decade. The musical sound of one hand clapping.
Opening with the more modern European classically influenced "Under Trees Of Color, Over Fields of Grey" there is the immediate lyrical sense of purpose, Vitchev and Iago's musical voices are all most simultaneously intertwined adding a rich sonic base from which the work begins to grow. A song within a song but Vitchev's work transcends the more traditional form and function of western improvised music. Hristo Vitchev has constructed his own unique hybrid of improvisational music drawn from a myriad of influences including his native Bulgaria. There is perfect balance as the sonic pieces of this multi-dimensional mosaic come together with no one piece over powering another. "Musica Humana" begins with the rhythmic punctuations of Weber and an organic pulse combined with a subtle lyrical grandeur that begins to carry the ebb and flow of this release to the uncharted waters of music not easily categorized with the more traditional limitations imposed by the recording industry. As the release moves to an incredibly well paced conclusion there is the impressionistic piece "Crepuscular Rays" which contains "The Farewell" which is a more introspective piece, melancholy but never bordering on morose. A harmonic expression of dynamic tension telling a heartfelt story but with no words. A cathartic emotional experience that is somehow relateable to the subject matter of our own choosing. Vitchev's keen melodic sense will trigger a unique emotional response that will of course very with the individual and their own subjective perceptions of thought and feeling. Closing with "The Melancholic Heart" there is a more cinematic quality to this piece that will stay with you long after listening. A fitting conclusion to what may be best described as the best cinematography never filmed. Vitchev leaves that portion of the release up to the individual.
Vitchev has released 4 studio albums with Weber Iago including Heartmony as their second duet which may be misleading. Vitchev and Weber's music transcends the more traditional jazz idiom in much the same fashion that their recorded work here is that of a more cohesive unified voice with subtle shadings, lyrical swells and the textured nuances that creates music that is to be experienced. An incredibly beautiful artistic statement of personal experience. The unified voices of Vitchev and Iago paint a musical picture that is a mirror image of the beautiful oil painting that graces the cover of Heartmony.
Heartmony is arguably Vitchev's finest work to date and proof positive you can in fact judge a book or in this case the recording by it's cover. Hristo Vitchev sounds like no one else, but why would he want to?
Tracks: Under Trees of Color, Over Fields of Grey; Musica Humana; Memories In Black and White; The Last Leaves Which Fell In Fall; Prelude to the Crepuscular Rays; Crepuscular Rays - The Farewell; Prelude to an Act of Departure; The Imperative Expression; And May We Meet Again; Prelude to a Melancholic Heart; The Melancholic Heart.
Personnel: Hristo Vitchev: guitar; Iago Weber: piano, voice and percussion.
Hristo Vitchev will be our February artist of the month and an interview will be posted in the coming weeks!