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Crossing Lines by Plamen Karadonev

Born in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, pianist/composer Plamen Karadonev performs with the agility of a jackrabbit and the inner stealth of a predatory cougar. His debut album Crossing Lines allows the listener to sit in the eye of the storm, witnessing chords flying in free-style forms delineated by certain turns and then mellowing to a tepid calm set to a luscious moonlit kindle on others. Accompanying Karadonev who plays piano, accordion and keyboards are George Garzone on saxophone, Hal Crook on trombone, Elena Koleva on vocals, Kendall Eddy on bass, and Lee Fish and Austin McMahon on drums. The CD features four original compositions by Karadonev, four arrangements of traditional jazz material based on the work of Cole Porter, John Coltrane, and Alan Bergman, and one track, "Frohleher Landman," inspired by the classic themes of Robert Schumann using conceptual phrases that produce an openness in the harmony structures. Crossing Lines has a lot of sonic bling with tracks mostly made from conceptual and improvised jamming episodes, and a few tracks that court a soul-jazz palette reflective of Shirley Bassey as Elena Koleva’s vocals skim over the melodic coals.

The rattling horns and quick step piano keys of the title track produce ornate twirls and an odd timing beat as the instruments adjust to each other’s tinkering. The interacting harmonies create a trellis effect, erecting one building after another into full cities knitted from the blocks of instrument parts. The agility of the chord movements and the free-style concepts of "Rondo ala Bulgar" and "Frohleher Landman" are naturally spun with brackets of improvisations emerging from the brash and bold horn sections and staggering cymbal strikes. The tracks are originally scripted with a chipotle-zest giving the chords an extra kick every now and again. The serene modulations of "Like Sonny" and "Sianie" are fashionably splayed, while the somber tones of "Night and Day" are traditionally swathed. The gentle piano keys of "Prelude in F" fall like raindrops over the calm mood of the melody, as Koleva’s vocals in "You Must Believe In Spring" and "The Island" display both a strong and angelic voicing with the music caressing her chords. The finessed sonic swirls are softly lit with a torchlight illumination reminiscent of Shirley Bassey.

Plamen studied music at the State Academy of Music in Sofia, Bulgaria and later acquired a scholarship at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. In the USA, he has performed with Gene Perla, Dave Liebman, Jimmy Cobb, Richie Barshay, and many others. Plamen Karadonev’s debut album Crossing Lines is made from concepts that experiment with note values and combinations which place them in a beaker that produces different instrument possibilities and degrees of sonic explosions. The album shows views of both free-style expressions and smooth soul-jazz vibrations performed in the mind first before reaching a physical form, similarly to the way slates of cities are built. The music is open and controlled and very personalized to Plamen Karadonev and his crew using a mentality that is familiar to a city planner who constructs a block of buildings.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Plamen Karadonev
  • CD Title: Crossing Lines
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Mu Records
  • Tracks: Crossing Lines, Night And Day, Rondo ala Bulgar, Like Sonny, Sianie, Frohleher Landman, Prelude In F, You Must Believe In Spring, The Island
  • Musicians: Plamen Karadonev (piano, accordion, keyboards), George Garzone (saxophone), Hal Crook (trombone), Elena Koleva (vocals), Kendall Eddy (bass), Austin McMahon (drums), and Lee Fish (drums)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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