Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Elina Duni Quartet: Matanë Malit

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Vocal music in a language we don’t understand is normally a partial aesthetic experience, connotation without denotation. Elina Duni left Albania in 1992, when she was 10, moved to Switzerland and only recently rediscovered her country’s traditional songs. From the opening track, “Ka një mot,” her alluring voice, lonely in space, might be coming from beyond the misty mountains of Albania, pictured in the CD booklet. Matanë Malit, which means “beyond the mountain,” is one rapt, solemn atmosphere.

ECM offers a simple, obvious, but rarely seen solution to the language barrier. The complete lyrics to every song are printed in both Albanian and English. When we read the words, we understand the desolation in Duni’s voice. Her accompaniment is the Colin Vallon Trio, an adventurous ensemble that here restricts itself to framing stark outlines for this mesmerizing album that Duni describes as “the echo of my childhood, my exile and my reconciliation.”

Originally Published