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Dusko Goykovich: Balkan Blue

Compositional derivations distinguish this two-CD set’s music, and this isn’t terribly unpleasant given the choices available for trumpeter Goykovich and his cohorts. “A Night in Skopje” features consistent performances by a quintet and it opens with “Simona,” a ballad by tenorist Gianni Basso. Well chosen! Ballads are his forte, proven by After Hours (1971), a nice quartet date also for Enja, and reaffirmed on “You’ve Changed” and his own “Medium Rare.” Basso’s tune recalls “Nancy” but he is a convincing soloist with a muscular approach to this mellow fare. “Adriatica” spins out of “Stairway to the Skies” and Peter Michelich likes Wynton Kelly and others for this 1994 date.

Disc two contains the trumpeter’s long-gestating “Balkan Blues” suite recorded in 1992. Its orchestral threads, conceived by him but scored by others since 1974, bow often to Sketches of Spain with lots of brass figures and a buoyancy tempered by conservative Latin rhythms. “Pannonia” is modal and Milesian, but getting away at last from the Davis-Evans shadow is “Ohrid” with its echoes of Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk.” Despite these qualities, Goykovich is subtly extroverted and the entire package offers pleasurable listening.

Originally Published