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Written in Southern Rag (later renamed fRoots) issue 14, 1982


Balkan Music FMBS 80101 (1980)

A Balkan influence is brought to the increasingly eclectic repertoire of at least one London weekly pub session by Chris Gunstone, often in company with fellow members of Blowzabella.
      Chris is deeply involved in perpetuating the Macedonian tradition, not just in Britain but also in its native land, which is currently parcelled out between Greece, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Impressive evidence of his activities is this album of dance tunes from the Yugoslavian part of Macedonia, played by a remarkable group comprising two young Western musicians, Chris himself and Australian Linsey Pollak, and two older and highly regarded traditional Macedonian musicians. 71 -year-old Mile Kolarov. who plays the end-blown Balkan flute known as a kaval, and bagpiper Lazo Nikoloyski.
      The majority of the tracks begin with the wailing of the two sets of bagpipes or gaida, played by Linsey and Lazo, as they come up to pitch and settle into a rhythm based on almost any prime number up to 43, where they are joined by Mile's kaval and Chris's long-necked lute, the tambura.
      The record covers only a small part of the wide Balkan repertoire but it's well worth a listen, particularly if you'd like some idea of how dance tunes not based on multiples of 2 and 3 can work. It's also a good example of interest from a younger generation helping to revitalise a valuable traditional art.

1982 Andrew Cronshaw

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