Ratko Zjaca, John Patitucci, Steve Gadd, Stanislav Mitrovic, Randy Brecker – Continental Talk – In+Out IOR 77097-2 71:39 ***:
Putting together a record date when more than one musician is involved can be full of drama. Imagine such a date, when not only are there five musicians, but a cross-cultural blend of three Americans, a Croatian (Zjaca) and a Serb (Mitrovic). Fortunately with music as the common language, the results are worth the effort.
In this set of twelve ambitious compositions that make up “Continental Talk”, guitarist Ratko Zjaca provided nine tunes, and tenor sax player Stanislav Mitrovic contributed three. All fall into the contemporary music or fusion category. The challenge, of course, is to engage the listening audience, where two of the principals Zjaca and Mitrovic are basically unknown, despite their musical training and undoubted technique. Leading off with “Breakfast in Tokyo” which has a bluesy feel, this gives Zjaca an opportunity to set the stage for the balance of the disc.
The next three compositions,” The New Life”, Portrait in Retrograde” and “Inner Ears” continue with the opening premise, and are harmonically bright, with “Retrograde” having a subtle bossa nuance. While the Americans Patitucci and Gadd make their presence felt from the very first tune, it is not until Randy Brecker with his biting trumpet joins on “Correspondance” that the group really pushes itself to the next level. Zjaca responds to the occasion with some vigorous playing, and Mitrovic offers a short but well-intentioned solo. This sophisticated interplay among the group continues on the other cuts with Brecker, namely “The Gate” and “e Doubt”. Going back to a couple of earlier tunes in the session, particular attention should be paid to “Home Again ” and “Feather,” where there is some sensitive musical communication between Zjaca and Mitrovic.
Regardless of the instrumental configuration of the group on the various pieces, the result is the same. This is a combination with a remarkable amount of musical talent, which bodes well if they chose to embark on future endeavours.
TrackList: Breakfast In Tokyo; The New Life; Portrait In Retrograde; Inner Ears; Kurosawa; At The Crossroads; Home Again; Correspondance; Feather; The Gate; Anibas; eDoubt.
— Pierre Giroux