EP: Liljana Winkler and the Solenne Band perform the music of Gene Pritsker by Gene Pritsker

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A dark and entrancing fusion of opera with jazz, soprano Lilliana Winkler and the Solenne Band are gracing us with a release of crisply recorded and meticulously performed sophisticated, noir pop that will challenge, but ultimately reward those who give it enough time and attention.

Based appropriately in the jazz capital of the world, New York-based musicians the Solenne Band and world-renowned soprano diva Liliana Winkler have joined forces on this short but precious EP, 16 minutes of covers of compositions from Russian powerhouse composer and guitarist Gene Pritsker. The composer’s delicate craft can be experienced on the EP through the thunderous starter Path’ and the subsequent 4-movement composition ‘Blues From An Airport’, written on 4 poems from Jacob Miller.

Essentially, Pritsker writes music in a variety of styles, and with over 900 compositions in his repertoire, it’s easy to envision the man as a widely underappreciated musician. ‘Path’, originally written as an RB piece is given an intense jazz makeover in the version that starts this album. Starting anderstated enough to harken back to the original thing, the piece soon gets possessed by the striking vocals of Winkler, and an upheaval in the instrumentals that paint the music behind her. The horns blaring, and the beat dynamic and nuanced, closely follow in the heels of Winkler’s impassioned delivery. An engaging trip from start to finish.

Music From An Airport’, the gigantic, 11-minute second piece on the album also does not lack a thing in terms of intricacy or taste. The noir jazz arrangement led by the trumpet of Peter Oswald and the saxophone of Kay Fischer, along with the masterfully calculated piano performances, courtesy of Sari Anraku, all combine in a silken smooth manner with Winkler’s lively deliveries, giving us melodies that breath and move, and arrangements that quieten down and blow up with the course of the words and how they are sung, in a display of capable musicianship between world class musicians and an extremely talented singer.

This jazzy, as stated earlier, will be a challenging initiation for those who are not necessarily steeped into this level of harmonic and textural complexity, but given enough time and with intentionally listening to the striking performances from all those involved, it won’t take long for anyone to realize that this is a release of exceptionally high value. From the treatments given to the original compositions, to the intricate arrangements and fulfilling production, this compilation of covers is one made out of great admiration to an overlooked composer, and is one that displays immense talent and musicianship.

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