Glide (Roundtone Records, 2011)
Born in Zagreb, Croatia and currently based in Los Angeles, flutist Damjan Krajacic is a new name to me. Still, there’s a familiarity to what he does with his chosen instrument, which is not to say his approach is predictable. He started out as a jazz bassist before becoming intrigued with the possibilities of the flute, not only how well it blends with the percussion-heavy textures of Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music, but also the extent to which the breathing of life into it affects the sounds that come out. There are many high-flying jazz moments on Glide during which Krajacic and his collaborators -Mike Boito on acoustic and electric piano, Larry Steen on acoustic and electric bass and drummer/percussionists Tony Shogren and Derf Reklaw- really soar, with shifting arrangements and rhythms winding their way into solos by every player. But it’s not about merely indulging individual musicians who happen to be very good at what they do.
The pieces are expansive and expressive, often taking time to stretch out, as on the alternately moody and playful “Lara” and “Heartbeat,” to showcase the spark and creativity of the whole ensemble. Check, for example, the marvelous subtlety with which Boito and Steen build their piano and bass up and around the similarly emergent sound of Krajacic’s flute throughout “Resemblance,” Shogren’s recurring use of Brazilian rhythms and instruments to compliment Krajacic’s scatting along the same lines and Reklaw’s unflagging Afro/Latin/funk expertise. And yes, there are Balkan subtleties in there as well, lest anyone think Krajacic’s homeland was overlooked. Fans of straight-up jazz and global sounds alike will enjoy this thoroughly satisfying CD.