Irina Pavlovic is a pianist and composer from Serbia who began studying the flute at the age of seven. As her interest in music deepened, Irina moved to Belgrade to study the piano. Fascinated by jazz, she also delved into the genre. The passion for jazz is evident in the marvelous albums produced by our friend Antonio Martino. One may even wonder where he finds these incredible artists whom we might not know if it weren’t for him. Whether it’s Italian jazz artists or those from Eastern European countries, every new proposal from Antonio dazzles us.
Using chords derived from gospel and arrangements based on the call-and-response formula, we are talking about soul jazz. It sought a return to its roots, recalling the religious sounds of African-American churches and the secular tradition of blues. In the sixties, this allowed jazz to achieve a state of grace among the audience of that time, carrying many values of R&B.
The fact that some Serbian artists now incorporate this as a stylistic characteristic to produce one of the most enjoyable albums of the recent period testifies to the enduring influence this music has among new generations.
Signifying that this album is not quite like the others is the presence of Dean Bowman on the title track that gave the album its name, “The Soulful Heritage.” Like the entire album, one must take the time to listen to it several times to fully appreciate the spectacular details of the arrangements and Irina Pavlovic’s exceptional instrumental skills. This album is impressive because, upon listening, one doesn’t even question its origin. The atmospheres are there to captivate the mind. At most, it takes until the fifth track of this album to find influences of so-called “classical” music that originally shaped every European musician.
In the end, once again, it’s this blend of cultures, when well assimilated, that makes the difference compared to other albums. When an artist can infuse a bit of their soul into a composition in a style that is not initially their own, bridging the gap between Serbia and the USA involves more than just the number of kilometers separating the two countries. It’s Irina’s vision of jazz, tied to her own culture, that makes us dream and comfortably settles us in to listen to this album. There are plenty of reasons, if needed, to reveal all the details that led the editorial teams of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move to slide this album into the stack of “Essentials.”
PARIS-MOVE, November 20th 2023