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Vershki Da Koreshki – Gombi Zor (1999)

Mola Sylla - Vocal, Kongoma (Thumb Piano), Xalam
Alexei Levin - Accordion, Piano, Jew's Harp
Vladimir Volkov - Double Bass
Sandip Bhattacharya - Percussion

The task of this group - to bring the atmosphere of spontaneous meeting on stage and to find a link between traditional and modern, roots and improvisation. The metaphor of a plant - an organism that is formed by two - above and under the ground - parts. It was planted as an experiment; it stayed alive; it keeps giving its fruits.

MOLA SYLLA (Dakar, Senegal, 1956)
Vocals, mbira, xalam. Received a traditional African musical education. Came to Holland in '87 with his band Senemali . Mola is engaged in various music and dance projects in Holland. Works together with dancer Sasha Walz, cellist Tristan Honsinger and drummer Han Bennink. From the beginning - he is essential "koreshok".

ALEXEI LEVIN (St Petersburg, Russia, 1970)
Plays piano, accordion, jew's harp... Studied at the Moussorgsky Music College of St Petersburg. Has been living in Amsterdam since '89. Founder and artistic leader of Vershki da Koreshki. Works with jazz , traditional and contemporary music and dance projects and groups.

VLADIMIR VOLKOV (St Petersburg, Russia, 1960)
Plays double bass. A well-known avant-garde and classical musician. Studied at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. Together with V. Gayvoronsky he forms the Leningrad Duo and plays in various jazz and baroque ensembles in Europe and the USA. Recorded about ten albums on Melodia, Leo Records, Kuritsa, Long Arms?

Plays tabla. Studied tabla in the Guru-Shisya-Parampara-system and received his 'Sangit Prakabar' in 1986. Since 1990 he is an All India Radio artist from Hyderabad. Over the years he has performed throughout Europe, India, USA and Japan as a solo-artist and accompanist of well-known musicians such as Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, G.S. Sachdev and others. He also made recordings ranging from Indian classical music to Jazz-Fusion and modern ballet. Since 1989 he is a regular performer in the "Series India Klassiek" concerts. (source)

On this latest release, Gombi Zor (named for a toy bear found in their farmhouse/studio), the mixture is heavy on hybrid Afro-Indian grooves, jazzy improvisation, European and Indian folk melodies. The flexibility of their improvisation (their "leaves") is anchored by the traditional grooves (their "roots"). Mola Sylla, originally from Senegal, provides the African root with vocal and percussion.

The leaves, Alexi Levin (on keyboards, accordion, mouth harp and reeds) and Vladimir Volkov (double-bass) are Russian jazz players. New to the mix is Sandip Bhattacharya, Indian tabla player and singer. Sami artist Mari Boine joins on one especially jazzy track, as does Sergey Starostin on another (singing in Old Russian). I miss the heavy Tuvan flavor of their last album, but there are still musical echoes from the Siberian steppes. (Throat-singer Kaigal-ool Khovalyg is still associated with the band, toured with them recently, but is not on these sessions.)

While their focus sometimes slips a little, Vedaki creates something exotic, surprising and so seamlessly organic it sounds derived from an ancient tradition all its own; from some land where their Russian, Indian and West African ancestors forged a common musical language centuries ago. They say, "It was planted as an experiment; it stayed alive; it keeps giving its fruits." (Brent Wilcox, Rootsworld)

Recorded in August 1998 (except LIVE) during the stay of VeDaKi in Swiss Alps in the farmhouse "La Sombeille" near La-Chaux-de-Fonds. Songs XamXam, Adiye and Fode recorded in open air.

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