Sunday, August 25, 2013

Paradox Trio …. Melding of Jazz and Creative Improvisation

Paradox Trio
Paradox Trio

New York based PARADOX TRIO creates original music inspired by Eastern European, Balkan, Gypsy and downtown traditions. In the last seven years the quartet has toured and played major festivals throughout the U.S., Europe and Canada. The group’s dynamic performances and approach cut across stylistic and geographic boundaries creating an unusual and eclectic sound, redefining the concept “world beat”. The group features Matt Darriau on two unique and lyrical Bulgarian instruments, the Kaval (end-blown flute, like the Arabic ney) and the Gaida (bagpipe) as well as saxes and clarinets. With Brad Shepik on guitars, Rufus Cappadocia on cello and Seido Salifoski on dumbek. Matt Darriau was named one of the most influental jazz musicians of thelast fifteen years by Jazziz Magazine for bringing balkan rhythms and melodies into jazz. The quartet continued without a lineup change throughout the '90s and well into the 2000s.

Along with Dave Douglas' Tiny Bell Trio, Pachora, and Brad Shepik & the Commuters (all including Shepik), during the '90s Paradox Trio were in the forefront of New York groups melding an edgy downtown sensibility with Eastern European and Middle Eastern influences. The group became known for its rousing shows at the Bell Café in New York's Soho (Tiny Bell Trio derived its name from the same venue) and the Knitting Factory, the well-known downtown club whose label released the ensemble's eponymous first CD in 1995. The band was one of the first to give traditional ethnic music a distinctly downtown flavor. Certainly, Darriau was in the first wave of artists to introduce Eastern European and Middle Eastern melodies, scales, and rhythms into the downtown mix. The third Paradox Trio CD on the Knitting Factory label, Source, aptly summarized the multicultural influences defining much of Darriau's recorded output; the 1999 album found the group exploring music of the late-period Ottoman Empire, where the East and West met and co-mingled, forever influencing art and culture throughout most of the 20th century. Source and the band's other Knitting Factory discs have unfortunately gone out of print, but Paradox was still going strong as of the mid-2000s, with club and festival appearances and the release of 2005's Gambit on the Enja label.

Paradox have also performed live in accompaniment to classic silent films; an excerpt from the band's performance of Darriau's score to the Salvador Dali/Luis Buñuel surrealist landmark Un Chien Andalou can be heard on the What Is Jazz? 1996 CD, which features live tracks from various artists who performed at the Knitting Factory's creative jazz fest that year. While often considered primarily a creative outlet for Darriau, Paradox Trio have served as an important working group for all four of its members, with Shepik second to Darriau in contributing arrangements for the band. As Shepik continued to increase his involvement -- both as leader and sideman -- in other groups during the new millennium, guitarist Dave Fiuczynski (Screaming Headless Torsos, Hasidic New Wave) would sometimes replace him as Paradox Trio's guitarist in live appearances.

Paradox Trio
Paradox Trio
During the 2000s, after the heyday of the downtown scene had passed, New York's "Gypsy punk" bands began receiving considerable attention from Brooklyn live music scenesters and music critics -- Paradox Trio could easily be seen as forefathers of the Gypsy punkers, albeit with a stronger jazz sensibility. In fact, in terms of direct connections, accordionist Yuri Lemeshev of Gogol Bordello has been in the Paradox orbit, performing live with the band on various occasions (and also touring in a duo with Darriau), and Slavic Soul Party!, another band of the 2000s often included under the "Gypsy punk" rubric, included Darriau in a touring lineup.

The journey of paradox trio is unmatched by any other contempory group mixing traditional eastern European sounds. The expected becomes the unexpected when Matt Darriau, the leader of this talented ensemble, takes tradition into Jazz and Ambient and sometimes what seems like hard rock. A extremely intelligent band with provocative and energetic music through deep roots to keep its soaring heights connected to something substantial.

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