Gambit has superbly atmospheric art-work. On the front cover is a nice shade of a black & white photo of Matt Darriau playing his clarinet and on the back a moving picture of Theodossi Spassov playing his kaval.
Through and throughout his gifted discography, Darriau has instituted himself as a great Celtic and Balkan jazz interpreter, bar none. In the cognitive process, Matt Darriau has kept his compositions always in the spotlight and undoubtedly enhanced his reputation as a composer and creator.
Gambit features Darriau’s regular Paradox Trio (Brad Shepik, Rufus Cappadocia, Seido Salikoski) plus Matt Kilmer on percussion and the remarkable Theodossi Spasssov on vocals and kaval. From the breaking notes of "Theo’s Gambit", itself ardently played, the sound is distinctive to other Darriau crafts. The sounds of his reeds are very inspired. Their buoyant, polished tones has seared Darriau to mastermind the music, which becomes important on opuses such as "Cocek i Gong" that had been recorded in Hamilton, Ontario by Glen Marshall.
Crossway the eight tracks here and there is a warm palette of singular sounds with the full band in total and amazing cohesion. Darriau plays soaring solos, deploying tuneful and fluent performances. Seido Salidfoski showcases brilliant beats with his own playing. Spassov’s vocals in "Tudorka" are both solemn and poignant. In all of these creations Darriau is in the limelight and manifests his mastery of Balkan music. He makes it sound voluble and effortless; as natural as living. Beyond all of these though, "Point" is performed brilliantly by guitarist Brad Shepik and cellist Rufus Cappadocia. The lines knit all around the whole band; all of them expressing an intuitive grasp of each other’s playing.
Matt Darriau’s skills and knowledge of this music is awesome, particularly in live performances where he consummates this consistently delectable compilation. The emotions Darriau is able to pass onto his public are jewels of gracefulness, refinement and controlled paradox of fragility and supremacy.