Boomkat Product Review:
Jazz was seen in Communist Romania as a symbol of American decadence and was frowned upon to the point where playing jazz music could be seen as anti-establishment, however as musician Marius Popp puts it; "People play better music when they are in extreme situations" and if this compilation is a benchmark of the music being played at this time then the government and situation couldn't stifle their creativity. The compilation begins with the first ever Romanian free jazz recording, from Italian Guido Manusardi. He came from a musical family and was already experimenting with jazz improvisation at 15 years of age, and after a few years touring and in Sweden he settled in Romania in 1967 and became one of the most influential figures in the scene. The piece is a revelation, and although it is free, this shows a time when free music was only just pushing the boundaries and it doesn't lapse into total insanity. Elsewhere we have tracks from Johnny Raducanu, who was probably Romania's best known jazz musician, a particular highlight is 'Balada', which takes the sultry smoky jazz we might most readily associate with Mingus or French New Wave movies and re-wires it for a Balkan audience. For jazz fans this collection is an indispensable look into a lesser-heard fragment of the sprawling genre, but for newcomers too there is plenty of rare, dusty jazz to get stuck into. A fabulous compilation - highly recommended.