A Hawk and a Hacksaw’s collaboration with The Hun Hangár Ensemble continues its journey into the musical forms of the Old World of Europe. Hold the preconceived notions of Hungarian, Serbian, Romanian and klezmer tunes though; this invigorating EP also has clear threads of jazz and classical minimalism running through it. The eight tracks show them blurring genre and geography while remembering to have fun. Knowing when to sit certain musicians out gives the music contrast—check out the duo of violin and cymbalom (a dulcimer-like instrument) combining on the sad and excellent “Kiraly Siritas”. There’s plenty of vitality too: on the live version of the traditional “Romanian Hora And Bulgar”, Barnes plays sleigh bells and a cymbal with his head, goat bells and a cow bell with his right knee, cymbals and a gong with his feet, and accordion with his hands. What a slacker.
While respecting traditional folk music, the focus is on musical exploration. Accordingly, “Vajdaszentivany” resembles a Keystone Cops chase, “Serbian Cocek” has a funky New Orleans marching band rhythm, “Dudanotak“ and “Oriental Hora” could fit on an art-film soundtrack, and “Ihabibi“ brings to mind Barnes’s cinematic phrase Spaghetti Eastern. Despite the variety this is a superbly coherent piece of work. The limited edition EP comes with a 20-minute bonus DVD (An Introduction To A Hawk and a Hacksaw) documenting the duo’s last two years on the road, and with live footage in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Hun Hangár Ensenble are Béla Ágoston (Hungarian bagpipes, clarinet, alto saxophone), Ferenc Kovács (trumpet, violin), Zsolt Kürtösi (upright bass), and Balázs Unger (cimbalom).
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