A call for a peaceful revolution and love" is out in Hi-Files! Thank you Nikola Markovic.
Sanja Markovic "Ascension" A.MA Records
A call for a peaceful revolution and love
Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sanja Markovic was present on the stage for a long time, before she presented her project "Ascension" at the Belgrade Jazz Festival in the fall of 2017. Guest appearances at RTS Big Band concerts, club gigs, work with the Brazilian Jazz Collective line-up, writing theater and applied music, made up a very rich working biography of this hard-working author. Again, the aforementioned author's band and the later album of the same name represented an unequivocal step forward in the creative and arranging field, in cooperation with a constellation of top musicians of the middle and younger generation of the domestic jazz scene.
It was a breath of freshness and modernity in the treatment of vocal jazz, where the traditional division of roles into "singer" and "instrumental accompaniment" was overcome. Instead, Sanja Markovic presented herself in all roles, as a technically flawless vocalist, a band leader who holds all the strings of music and confidently manages and produces a multi-member band, and finally as a reliable performer on wind instruments. At the beginning of the following year, a performance at the Metropolis Jazz Festival of the eponymous publishing house followed, as a kind of promotion of the upcoming album, which, due to circumstances, had to wait a couple of years for a new publisher.
We can certainly look for the seed of Sanja Markovic's authorial expression in her 'American years', where she honed her talent, produced music, but also absorbed music with all her heart and attended jazz concerts and gigs on the club scene there. "I spent part of my childhood in America, and later came back periodically. I lived on the East Coast, went to middle school, then freshmen a year of high school; I studied piano so that after 2000 I could teach it in a school in New York, along with various other jobs", Markovic recalls for Hi-Files magazine. "I lived for a good gig and often went alone to listen to instrumental jazz in clubs in Washington, and later in New York. As a classically trained musician and jazz layman at the time, it was more important for me to hear as much as possible, aware that behind every player there are hours of playing and perfecting the instrument. It's a school I didn't have", she added.
Fans of vocal jazz in Serbia, on the one hand, feel a deep affection for historical divas such as Billie Holiday, Elle Fitzgerald, and other vocalists from that time. The middle generation of audiophiles adores Diana Krall, Patricia Barber, Cassandra Wilson, while the 21st century gave birth to contemporary authors such as Esperanza Spalding, Gretchen Parlato ... In Sanja Markovic's original music and interpretation we can hear a rich tradition and contemporary New York tendencies.
“Although I have always preferred instrumental jazz, singers like Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan have my eternal love. Some of them I like due to the impeccable 'instruments' (Nancy Wilson), others because of the interpretations that inspire (Particia Barber, Jil Carn), and some for the naturalness of the expression (Jimmy Woode) ”says Markovic. One of the most exciting singers for me is Mark Murphy - an example of a voice in the service of brilliant ideas and an enviable level of freedom of expression. With him I share the love for literary works and their integration into music. My favorite era is the era of hard-bop, but I also love classics that will have eternal value like Elle Fitzgerald ”. She adds and concludes: “My vocal style is based on the search for the most natural sound and clearest emotion. The inspiration is a philosophy and ‘soul-searching’ that I draw from life ”.
The title of the album "Ascension" will be an obvious association to many jazz fans on the eponymous record by John Coltrane, one of those that marked a turning point in the saxophonist's career, towards freer forms of jazz. Sanja Markovic explains how her song was created as an introduction to one of the arrangements she arranged - "Higher Ground" by Doug Carn - so that the first part was "Ascension to Higher Ground". The working title then became permanent and it marks the entire stage of this initial path. "Logically, she advanced that, without the burden of legacy and anything but a sincere love for virtues, dedication and beauty - notions in which Coltrane also created and dwelled, this would become the title of the album", she says, noting that the coincidence as a homage is by no means accidental. "I experienced Coltrane's music very personally, and this album is my rise from the previous course, with symbolism that is pervasive. The text, through Walt Whitman's and my verses, talks about the nature of our existence, and the second part of the song is a call for a peaceful revolution and love, ”says Sanja.
One of the specifics of the album is the fact that Sanja Markovic uses different personell for different songs. Thus, there are places in the compositions for atypical combinations of instruments, as well as for the entire range of young jazz musicians, leaders of a successful change of generations in the mainstream of domestic club and author's jazz. "The essence that runs through the whole album is love - for humanity and nature, personal love, and the one with mythological elements. Each song had to have its own story, so each of them asked for a special setting with the arrangement", Markovic explains the concept of the album.
She has only words of praise for her younger associates. "In my opinion, Rastko Obradovic is one of the greatest young hopes of our scene. Another hope, and at the same time a wonderful friend that this project has brought into my life, is Milena Jancuric I have a great love for the jazz flute and I really wanted that sound. What I couldn’t have guessed was that Milena has such magic that when she plays it sounds like the most beautiful effects on her channel are on, when they aren’t. There is also Ivan Radivojevic as a young virtuoso and deep trumpet player, who painted this album and the concert at the BJF in rich colors."
Although the album was not released for a local jazz label as announced a couple of years ago, the path to a physical release found its way into the (still) not so known record label A.MA Records from Italy. Judging by the numerous foreign media announcements and radio broadcasts that Sanja reports to the audience on her Facebook page, it would be said that the promotional team of this house does its job very dedicatedly. “A.MA Records, led by Antonio Martino, is a true example of a good hardworking small label full of talented artists and contacts in the music world. For me, it is finally a pleasant experience, with high professionalism and the feeling of being a part of the family. The dream of vinyl has become a reality, and the reactions to music and radio placement have surpassed my dreams", says Sanja Markovic and adds that preparations for the second album have already begun. Fans of (not only) vocal jazz are just attending the birth of a great and significant jazz career for this region. Hopefully - and beyond."