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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Oleg Kireyev And The Feng Shui Jazz Project

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published August 21, 2008

Mandala
Jazzheads

Russian tenor and soprano saxophonist Oleg Kireyev has released two more albums since Mandala was recorded in 2004, but the session has only recently been released in the U.S., and it’s an album that deserves to be much more widely known on this continent. Kireyev grew up near the Asian border, and while his first group, Orlan, pioneered an innovative trans-ethnic sound in Russia as far back as 1985, his latest work infuses Moldavian and Asian leitmotifs into contemporary jazz, to which he also adds African rhythms (courtesy of Senegalese percussionist Ndiaga Sambe). This disc’s title track—the first of five long pieces— swings like mad from the get-go, confirming the initial impression that this is funky jazz of a high order, made even higher when Kireyev himself chimes in with the guttural sounds of Mongolian throat singing. Along with Sambe, the Feng Shui Jazz Project consists of Valery Panfilov (guitar), Victor Matoukhin (bass) and Ildar Nafigov (drums), and together they occasionally inject subtle strokes of levity into the music, adding to this album’s considerable impact.