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Various Artists: Mountain Tale

Different corners of the eastern world come together beautifully on Mountain Tale (Zebra Acoustic 44405; 49:13), the new project featuring the combined forces of the Bulgarian vocal group Angelite, the Moscow Art Trio and the popular Tuvan quartet Huun-Huur-Tu. Effectively, this project ups the collaborative ante put forth on the 1996 recording, Fly, Fly My Sadness, with the addition of the Moscow Trio to the mix. On paper, it might seem like an improbable convergence of musicians from divergent places, geographically and culturally, but poetic logic as well as cultural commonality are in its favor.

Although the overall musician list is large, with almost 30 players involved, the interactions are spare and subtly configured, with small groupings and mixtures. On “Early Morning With My Horse,” the rollicking, almost identifiably horse-driven cadences of Huun-Huur-Tu blends with the statelier phrases of the Bulgarian women’s vocal mesh. “New Skomorohi” finds Moscow Art Trio (featuring Mikhail Alperin, who also did most of the album’s arrangements) laying a rhythmic groundwork over which Angelite floats their lovely enigmatic texture. The most concerted “crossover” vehicle, the 12-minute “Grand Finale,” brings the three groups together, emphasizing the distinctions between them, as well as the possibility for musical linkage. It’s each to their own and all for one, in a grand gesture of musical community across borders.

Originally Published