Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kruno, of the Fleet- Fingered Krunos

After seeing Mr. Krunoslav Spisic perform a month ago in Philly, I was desirous of possessing his sole CD issued to date. Ordering through Mr. Spisic's site was a bit unwieldy and, as he mentioned during his performance on June 9th, he'd run out of CD's to sell and it would be a while. So, for the same price and free shipping, I simply Amazoned it and twiddled the fingers waiting for the brown-suited guy to stop by.
Well, it took a while to seemingly individually manufacture this self-titled CD, but the month-long wait has been worth the calloused fingers.

There are 14 songs on the album, with Kruno singing just a bit on two selections, "Delem, Delem", an old Roma song usually spelled as "Djelem, Djelem" and "Svaku Zenu Volim Ja", which translates as I Love All Women. The latter song is written by Zvonko Bogdan, who was born in Vojvodina, which is a part of Serbia that has a fairly high percentage of folks with Hungarian roots. I mention these facts about the songs because when I played this CD for my ever-understanding and diplomatic mother, mentioning that Kruno is a Canadian with Croatian parents, she gave me the mal occhia and then the traditional head-shake, snaking of the arms, and the pursing of the lips ultimately culminating in the longish "Pfffffffft" consonantal emanation all translatable as the Croatian expression of "What an idiot!?!?" (also can be construed as, "What a donkey?!??!").
Her point?
"A Croatian would never sing a song by a Serb or by a Roma (Gypsy)."
And you may wonder how wars start, stop, and start anew in the Balkans? 'Nuff said about that.

Kruno, the CD, is fabulously recorded. Crystal clear, with a fine balance drawn between the lead guitar of Mr. Spisic and those of his madly strumming mates, Strabo & Scott Churchman. On a few selections Alexander Fedoriouk joins in on cimbalon Kalman Magyar bows in with his Grappelli-ish violin, completing the semblance of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli's Quintette of the Hot Club of France. The songs on the CD range from Mr. Spisic's interpretations of Reinhardt's "Swing 42" and "Swing 49" to the "Spider Man" theme, to "Puttin' on the Ritz", and some of his own original compositions. It goes without saying (but I will) that if you're not a fan of Reinhardt and Grappelli, this CD would not be for you. Brilliant guitar runs, notes speeding by, musical jokes and references tucked in are all evident on this acoustic instrument recording. No layers of strings, turntable antics, or New Style/Merde Style are in evidence.

And you can crank this CD up with minimal worries of distortion. Although your neighbors may wonder about those odd words heard when Kruno starts belting two of the songs.

I would recommend this CD highly. Fresh versions of old classics. Amazing musicianship. Fine sound production.

Just as a comparison, here's Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli performing J'Attenndrai and here's Kruno performing Reinhardt's Swing 49. Notice Kruno's guitar and its similarity to Reinhardt's.


Yes, yes and yes! I look forward to Kruno visiting Australia. He pops in a klezmer tune as well, just before he segues into Minor Swing - a very satisfying album that at first I didn't like because it seemed too slick but it grew on me, and keeps on growing
Thanks for dropping by. If you're enjoying Mr. Spisic's fine self-entitled effort, you may want to check out this cd that he does with Ludovic Beier, a Parisian-based accordian player of the first order. The album is worth the price if you only enjoy the title track....but I'm sure you'll like the rest of the album as well.
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