Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico
Songs of an Other (ECM/Universal Music Classical, 2008)
Greek vocalist and traditional music interpreter Savina Yannatou possesses a presence and talent that many vocalists must envy. In the past I have heard her interpretations of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean traditional music and enjoyed them immensely. Not to mention that Greece itself possesses its own range of musical traditions and dialects, which Savina also seems equally at home.
On her latest ECM recording, "Songs Of An Other", Savina’s vocals expand eastward. Here you find her interpreting songs from Central Asia, Serbia, Armenia and Bulgaria. Her band Primavera en Salonico helps in shaping these traditional folk gems by embellishing them with ney, quanun, accordion, oud, guitar, violin, viola, double bass and percussion. As you would expect on an ECM recording, the songs adopt a slower atmospheric feel, as opposed to the type of danceable traditional music you might hear in a restaurant setting or a Hollywood film.
That’s not to say that the musicians don’t kick up their heels now and again. The Bulgarian-Macedonian "Za Lioubih maimo tri momi" and the Greek "Radile" provide a couple of rousing moments on the recording. The Italian "Addio amore" sets a romantic mood with its strings and accordion. Most of the recording provides listeners with dreamy mind travel material. Only two tracks, "O Yannis kai o drakos" and "Albanian Lullabye" are too dissonant and experimental for my personal taste. Although Yannatou does stretch her vocal skills and offers some playful, if not otherworldly embellishments. She reminds me of classical vocalist Dawn Upshaw on these tracks.
This superb recording with its tight band, stellar vocals, and delicious menu of international folk will most likely appeal to fans of more iconoclastic jazz and adventurous ethnic music. I know that I am deeply impressed with these musicians and certainly I believe that Yannatou is a first-rate vocal talent worthy of your undivided attention.
Patricia Herlevi hosts and produces the community radio show Global Heartthrob at KSVR-Mount Vernon and she hosts a music consciousness blog, The Whole Music Experience. She is a regular contributor to World Music Central. She is also a contributing writer to "A & E Monthly" in Skagit Valley, Washington.
Buy the CD:
North American tour
September 18 Los Angeles, CA American Asian Museum Plaza
September 19 Albuquerque, NM ¡Globaquerque!
September 20 Albuquerque, NM ¡Globaquerque!
September 21 Chicago, IL Old Town School / Chicago World Music Festival
September 27 New York Symphony Space / World Music Institute
Patricia Herlevi is a former music journalist turned music researcher. She is especially interested in raising music consciousness. She is looking for an agent and publisher for her book Whole Music (Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit). She founded and hosts the blog
The Whole Music Experience and has contributed to World Music Central since 2003.