Not beating ’round the bebop bush, Serbian skin-kicker finds a beating heart of the matter.
Be it the Balkans or the Mississippi delta, the groove always keeps questing souls on the move: this New York resident knows, or rather feels, it only too well, having been at both spots. No rest for the wicked, one may say, yet wherever he stays wonders are abound as the title of Djordjevic’s solo project implies, and the pride of place Marko occupied on “Drummer’s Dance” from his compatriot Dusan Jevtovic’s "Am I Walking Wrong?" gave but a mere hint of what he’s capable of. Here, on a dozen of self-composed pieces, he proves that the era of kit-operating bandleaders hasn’t passed and jazz experimentation in a traditional set is very much alive.
It takes deliberately wobbly sync and sensual syncopation on “Svetlana” and its skittering reprise “Svetlana Swinging On A Summer Evening” to create an intimate essay in a rhythm section elegance, yet there’s a different sort of excitement in such effervescent charmers as “Flaxy World” or “2007” where rimshots and cymbals caress are palpable part of the fabric. Unlike the similar shift of “Chimes” which unfurls in slow motion, the jubilant, in turns merry and anthemic, chords and splashes, that carry “Heart Bop” and the bossa-colored “Ten Large Serbians” see the leader steal the thunder – highly charged, no electric lick in sight – from Bobby Avey’s graceful piano and pass it to Eli Degibri and Tivon Pennicott’s saxes, all the while jiving around Desmond White’s bass. Such a deep end comes balanced by the East European reserve of the romantic title track and the “Home Made” cha-cha-cha, although the folk edge of “War Song” understandably banishes the patinated humor in favor of well-tempered disharmony which echoes the tension shaped once “Which Way Is Down” ends so abruptly.
Still, “Celebraion” brings the jazz beauty back home, wherever it may be: it’s that thrillingly comfortable. Coming from a new star, this album could be a monumental work if it weren’t so nuanced.