The first time I listened to this CD, I was quite pleasantly surprised. Listening to the short samples (only on the MP3 page) is really not enough to get a sense of the variety and complexity of the music here. For many years, I’ve been very impressed with the Tzadik recording label, which produces everything from the most “outside” modern composers and performers to what they call “Radical Jewish Culture.” In fact, this music is some of the most accessible music I’ve heard from Tzadik in some time.
The music on “Metamorphoses” is accordion-driven (the songs are all composed by the accordionist), while it challenges every preconception about what that instrument can do. To me, the music I’ve heard that comes closest to this is Anouar Brahem’s “Khomsa,” the soundtrack to a Tunisian film and one of my favorite CDs for many years…it features some of the best accordion work by Richard Galliano. Some of the tracks on “Metamorphoses” build and develop to fast finger-work, while others are more introspective. The Bester Quartet is from Warsaw, Poland, and includes Jaroslaw Tyrala (violin); Jaroslaw Bester (bayan, or Russian button accordion); Oleg Dyyak (bayan, clarinet, percussion, duduk, an Armenian woodwind); and Mikolaj Pospieszalski (double bass). Also featured is Tomasz Zietek on trumpet. Three members of the quartet also play with the wonderful Cracow Klezmer Band (see “Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass”). However, this is definitely not klezmer music.
If all this sounds too exotic, you will be surprised that the music actually extends traditional jazz more than it invents a new kind of free jazz or composition. This is not “difficult” music, nor is it easy listening. It is multi-layered and intelligent without being contrived or academic.
Bottom line: Buy this CD if you like good jazz!