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Featured Artist: Ensemble Elektra
CD Title: The Book of Time
Year: 1999
Record Label: Milo
Style: Contemporary Jazz
Musicians: Elektra Kurtis (violin), Milo Kurtis (percussion), David Sausedo Valle (percussion), Tasos Stylianou (guitar), Bradley Jones (bass), Rufus Cappadocia (cello), Jean Bouise (vocals), India Czajkowska (vocals), Kelvyn Bell (guitar), Lefteris Bournias (clarinet), Newman Baker (drums), Abe Fogle (drums), Reggie Nicholson (drums)
Review: I had a hard time getting a handle on this disc. The Book of Time is full of beautiful melodies that almost hide the musicianship of the players. That many of the arrangements fall outside of jazz norms further complicates this matter. But if you can get beyond all of this, you will find quite rewarding music.

Leader and violinist Elektra Kurtis is clearly the dominant force here. She wrote all of the compositions and it is her violin that provides many of the key musical touches. Kurtis, born in Greece and raised in Poland by parents with Egyptian and Greek roots, brings a lot of non-traditional jazz influences to the table. Influences from European and Middle Eastern folk music are especially prevalent on the rhythms. This is true both in compositions and Kurtis’ own playing which has an eerie quality to it. The mixture of musical styles makes this disc much like listeners would expect from Steve Coleman or John Zorn, both of whom Kurtis has played with.

The backing musicians are no slouches either. Bass player Bradley Jones, drummers Abe Fogle and Reggie Nicholson, and guitarists Kelvyn Bell and Tasos Stylianou all get in some fine work. Rufus Cappadocia plays the cello as a counterbalance to Kurtis’ violin on more than one occasion. Lefteris Bournias does not stand out many tracks but when he does, such as "Nine for Curtis" and "Aetos," the results are splendid.

It is vocalist Jean Bouise that leaves the most lasting impression, however. Bouise does the lead on the title track and has all the skill and style of a master vocalist. It is fun to listen to her!

Book of Time has its problems. All of the tracks come across as odds and ends rather than a unified vision. Still they are wonderful parts.

Rating: Four Stars
Record Label Website: http://milorecords.tripod.com/
Reviewed by: Micah Holmquist