reviews

06.13.2012.

Milan Petrovic & 39 Friends: Excursion (SKC Novi Sad)

A keyboad player from Belgrade, acts with his work as a kind of missionary and he will open an interesting world of instrumental music to pop, rock and world music lovers

Looking from a work ethics perspective, it is hard not to glorify keyboardist/organist Milan Petrovic. A musician, who was during the past fifteen years better known to his colleagues than to wider audience, is currently a major concert attraction. This is not exaggeration; his quartet held an impressive number of about 50 concerts during one year of its existence, in Kovin, Kovacica, Nova Pazova and other places that local instrumentalists do not think about.

Milanhimself was a guest on all live TV and radio programs and very often you can see a new video clip or a new concert announcement on his and his band’s Facebook page. Following his activities, one gets impression that the instrumental blues / jazz / funk are as fun and popular as pop music. In the end, it all seems very encouraging and commendable for Serbian music scene which is attributed with elitism or lazy autism and insufficient potential for conquering young and old audience inclined to so-called “Grand” scene (very popular folk trash scene inSerbia).

So, who is this Milan Petrovic? Before he immersed himself in the world of instrumental music he was a member of popular Serbian reggae band Del Arno Band, and a member of stage band of a popular Serbian pop singer Ana Stanic, the latter being not so good recommendation to jazz fans (although it confirms a good market-oriented approach to media) On the other hand, having established good cooperation with people on Belgrade blues scene and fascinated by Wressnig-Crivellaro Organ Trio performance, he decided to try something similar.

As he admits, his initial idea was not to record the first album with as many as 38 musicians (39th being a photographer Ivan Grlic), but he quickly adjusted to the situation; however, in the end, there were some unrealized desires (for example, cooperation with Anton, guitar player from the most popular Serbian r’n’r band Partibrejkers). So, there is no doubt that this is a concept that the author is very proud of and in which he invested all his heart and soul. And how could it not be when some of the guest musicians are the best Serbian pianists such as Vasil Hadzimanov, Vlada Maricic, Ivan Aleksijevic and other colleagues with significantly higher status on stage – just to list the most famous jazz players.

However, such a concept is very ungrateful for the artist, because you have to bring together musicians from different sides of the local musical spectrum – jazz players, blues players, pop singers etc. and to put the pieces of different music into a meaningful and complete whole, preserving the integrity of the author at the same time. How successful wasMilanin doing all this?

The value of his work should be judged on the basis of what is realistic to expect. If we start nitpicking, we can easily say that there are no impressive solos or harmonies that will move us from a chair; even a brief Vasil’s solo in “Autumn inLondon” seems refreshing to fans of good performance. On the other hand, blues and funk moments lost edge under predominant pop form, so instead of naked soul, we get stylish takes packed in precise production and arrangements.

 

 

So, which achievements are we talking about? The answer to this question should be sought in the beginning of the text: Milan Petrovic, with his personality and work, is some kind of missionary who will open the world of interesting instrumental / improvisation music to the fans of pop, rock and world music. Thus, his approach to work – at least on this album – imposes an imperative to create hits, songs which can be sung, striking central themes and compact arrangement with radio potential.Milansucceeds in all this several times. Target hit “Orient Express”, with Wikluh Sky (Serbian famous rapper), is seesaw blues form with skilled schedule of singing, basic lines and instrumental details, while the single “Amsterdam Central Station” leaves us to warm, neutral chorus that could pass as music for commercials.

In my opinion, Petrovic is at his best when he succeeds to bridle rhythm section and put the brass up to the foreground. The best track on the album is “Belgrade Funky Time”, which is associated with pleasant music from the legendary Serbian film “Otpisani”; “Jam in Rome”, “Nuits soul la Tour Eiffel” and “Afroman in New York” are very good as well. The most successful flirting with blues is achieved thanks to the members of the Raw Hide blues band in theme “Memphis Blues Nights” – charming and precise strikes on the keyboard, playful harmonica, beautiful theme; everything is in place.

As can be expected from such a record, there are stylistic wanderings, unnecessary taking over by guest stars (e.g. stereotypical Latino part from Vlada Maricic in “Talkin’ about the Blues andCuba”), and the unnecessary author’s linkage to his previous pop experience (so “smooth” atmosphere in “Santorini view”).

Finally, a reminder: Milan Petrovic now has a permanent four-member band (rhythm section / keyboards and saxophone) and he is keen to replace “show-biz” approach with the compact band act. He announces that the next official release will be a live CD, which leads us to the conclusion that he will forget beautiful studio production and that he would like to roll up his sleeves and make “dirty” gig. Despite the current shortcomings, this is a good and honest approach to music which will, in one way or another, sooner or later, lead to a success.

Meanwhile, mayMilanconquer the masses – and may masses be conquered byMilan.

 

 

Tracks: Amsterdam Central Station; Orient Express; Jam in Rome; Autumn in London; Cool Swing from Pancevo; Belgrade Funky Time; Travelling by Mississippi; Santorini View; Nuits soul la Tour Eiffel; Memphis Blue Nights; Afroman in New York; Talking about Blues & Cuba.

List of musicians: Milan Petrovic – keyboards, organ; Dušan Bezuha – guitars; Wikluh Sky – vocal; Vasil Hadžimanov – piano; Ivan Aleksijevic – piano; Vladan Vučkovic Paja – guitars; Aleksandar Petrovic (Aca Seltic) – vocal; Ana Stanic – vocal;  Alberto So Sabi – percusions, vocal; Aleksandar Zafirov Zafa – guitars; Branko Isakovic – bass; Vlada Maričic – piano; Lazaro del Toro Vega – percusions, vocal; Nidya Moya – vocal; Jovan Ilic – harmonica; Blagoje Nedeljkovic Pače – drums; Boris Bunjac – percussions; Bora Veličkovic – trumpet; Mihajlo Bogosavljevic – trombone; Aleksandar Radulovic – percusions; Marin Petric Puroni – percusions; Mihajlo Dimitrijevic – percusions; Darko Golic – double bass; Vladan Stanoševic – guitars; Vladan Stanojevic – bass; Milan Jarakovic – bass; Ivan Stanoševic Giba – guitars; Rade Krivokuca – drums; Ljubomir Đordjevic –  harmonica; Lehel Nagy – sax; Marko Peric – drums; Marko Cvetkovic – bass; Bogdan Zdjelar – drums; Ivan Balvanliev – guitars; Nataša Kolartz – vocal; Bojana Stamenov – vocal; Radovan Simjanoski – bouzouki; Radomir Petrovic – accordion; Radovan Rosic – drums.

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