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Where Byzantium meets jazz!

This is an ambitious album, a first in kind and musical concept, composed of an octet of hymns that have been selected from different cycles of Byzantine religious ceremonies, arranged and interpreted in a complex jazz context, rich in polyrhythmic overlaid harmonies and improvised melisma.

Jazz music and the calophonic Byzantine qualities form an interwoven biome to convey the emotional spirit of the sacred texts. In this musical landscape, Eda Zari and her handpicked artists, dare to embody the liturgical-pastoral “code” of the troparia. In their original form, the hymns have been written in the 1,500-year-old Byzantine musical notation known as parasymantiki, (also found in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine manuscript collection housed at the Central State Archive of Tirana – Albania).

Through piano cadences and solo vocal coloring, each hymn achieves dynamic variations and sound symbolism, discovering a new language rich in solemn accents. The hymns are convincingly presented to a public that will appreciate not just the traditional, be that in the Byzantine religious song or in the jazz form. In any case, Zari does not set out to only remain within the traditional liturgical sphere.

“Recognizing the outstanding contributions of experts and musicologists in preserving the original form of the psaltic art, we have chosen to pursue a different aim. Our musical model has little to do with our individual tastes, as much as it has with the challenge of making a collective pilgrimage”, says Zari.

The collective murmur in these hymns is much more important than the song itself, as is the bordun (the sound sang in unison by many voices at the same time, like a cluster pedal), or the magical iso of the Albanian polyphony. The iso is the affirmation of unanimity, similar to the artistic message in this album. This journey resembles a melodic-rhythmic odyssey, where, after a series of chaotic labyrinths, influxes of creative ideas and thoughts on music and words, triumph arrives in the form of the emotional energy of the moment.