Yagull - Yuna

(CD 2018, 41:09, Zozemusic, zm18724)

The tracks:
  1- Searching For the Moon(2:32)
  2- Dawn(4:12)
  3- Sabbath Bloody Sabbath(4:02)
  4- Muse(3:56)
  5- 101(5:36)
  6- Fall Winter(2:52)
  7- Riverwas(3:39)
  8- Mori - Forest Song(4:05)
  9- Yuna(4:17)
10- Kiri(5:05)
11- Searching For The Moon - Reprise(0:45)

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Website info: Yagull was first created by Sasha Markovic when he released his first album, Films, in 2012. He was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia (former Yugoslavia), and a self-taught musician who has been playing the guitar since the age of 13. He graduated from Belgrade University majored in Anthropology. He took on an unique approach of learning guitar by trying to replicate the sounds from the vast variety of records he passionately collected and listened to, ranging from 70s rock, blues, jazz, to world music. This helped him quickly develop his musical ears, and inspire him to compose music from the age of 15. As an active New York artist, his projects range from instrumental acoustic duets, producing, scoring for movies and theater to hard rock and blues bands. In the same year, Sasha met Kana Kamitsubo, she was born and raised in Kobe, Japan. Kana began her classical music training at the age of 3. She has graduated from Osaka Music College. She also studied jazz piano at Koyo Conservatory of Music which led her to move to the state. In 2008, Kana graduated Summa Cum Laude from Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA where she studied music therapy and jazz piano. As a solo pianist, she performs her original compositions as well as improvisational music and holds concerts and events that use music as a holistic medium to bring healing to the audience. Kana is also a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) who has worked with children with special needs. She developed her original method, Musicreative™, which has received extremely positive feedback from the experts such as Dr. Darcy Walworth in the field of Music Therapy and Music Education. Kana also served as a course author of Clinical Improvisation class, one of the Master's degree curriculums at Berklee's College of Music. Sasha and Kana felt connected, musically and personally. They started to perform together as the musical project Yagull. In 2013 they got married and also recorded an album later named Kai, named after their son. The year of 2014 was quite busy for them yet full of new beginnings; their son was born, the album Kai album was released, and they opened a music school, Hug Music, in New York with a hope to provide a place where individuals can feel inspired to explore and express themselves through music. At Hug Music, Kana and Sasha work with students of any ages from 6 months old to adulthood including individuals with special needs. Kana and Sasha both believe in the power of music; they know that music can help people find joy, peace, and love. Their mission is to convey this message and let people experience the power through their life-long projects.

What an overwhelming musical experience it is to listen to Yagull, I was a bit afraid for clinical classical works or endless jazzy scale-acrobatics, but no, fortunately not! I am blown away by the wonderful and awesome interplay between the Steinway Grand piano and the acoustic guitar, scouting the borders between classical, jazz and folk.
In one moment a tender piano runs, turning from classical into jazzy, and warm twanging - and rhythm acoustic guitar (in Dawn).
Or sparkling Grand piano, then virtuosic jazzy guitar (with hints from The Rosenberg Trio) and catchy piano beats, culminating in a swirling “jazz meets classical” piano solo, evoking Keith Emerson (in 101).
There is a wonderful interplay between Steinway Grand piano and folky acoustic guitar in Searching For The Moon.
You will find warm acoustic rhythm guitar and piano runs, from tender to sparkling, then a fragile acoustic guitar solo (with bending and beautiful tremolo) in the track Kiri.
Even the sound of Eighties Camel comes to my mind, during pieces with dreamy classical piano runs and warm acoustic guitar, like in Fall Winter and Yuna (featuring a celestial vocal contribution by guest singer Ayumi Ueda.
The most remarkable composition is a cover from Black Sabbath entitled Sabbath Bloody Sabbath: no trademark raw and screamy Ozzy Osbourne but warm and sparkling Grand piano, and no trademark dark and heavy guitar sound but warm rhythm guitar, how adventurous and creative! I was a huge fan of Black Sabbath in the mid-Seventies, daily playing all their albums from Black Sabbath until Sabotage, I didn't know I was listening to this Black Sabbath cover! So I had a big smile when I discovered this on the back cover (“If the band's rendition of Black Sabbath's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath doesn't make you smile, nothing will”, Yagulla writes in the booklet).

If you have an open mind for an acoustic musical journey through the borders of classical, jazz and folk, this is wonderful music to discover!

**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Dave Smith)

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