December 7, 2018
Jasna Jovicevic Sextet
FMR CD 475-0318
By Ken Waxman
An indication of the high quality of music in Toronto is this CD of multifaceted compositions by Belgrade native Jasna Jovicevic. Jovicevic lived in Toronto from 2006-2009, while receiving her MA in Composition at York University, recording with local players and sampling different musical currents to use in her own work. However this CD, while proficient musically doesn’t settle on a consistent genre.
With an unusual line-up of violin, viola, cello, bassoon, percussion and her own saxophones, bass clarinet, space drum (!) and vocals, the seven tracks bounce among animated string-oriented tremolo showcases, Balkan-tinged vocal laments, spacey voice, strings and reeds elaboration plus instrumental virtuosity from all that zips from near-atonal; to near-smooth jazz.
“Ram Run through the Veins”, the CD’s lengthiest track, defines the conundrum in miniature. Beginning as an exercise in free-form saxophone squeals and whistles, backed by a sardonic march conveyed by splash cymbals, it settles down to become a quasi-ballad with triple-stropping strings and breathy English vocalizing accompanied by a bassoon obbligato. Other tracks such as “Speak Loud My Inner Child” show off Jovicevic’s unaccompanied saxophone prowess. Still others like”Rising Barefoot Ballad” and “Silver Winds of a Thousand Petals” create such close-knot harmonies which express intense emotionalism that either could be part of the formal Romantic cannon.
Flow Vertical is a top-flight demonstration of what Jovicevic can do as a composer and performer. But settling on one consistent narrative would better define her ideas.
-for The Whole Note December 2018