Over the past few years, we’ve enjoyed some dazzling albums from Belgian guitarist Gowaart Van Den Bossche under the moniker of Yadayn, but that is not his only musical project nor is it even his oldest. That turns out to be Zura Zaj, a collaboration with horn-player Jonathan Baltussen and violinist Lieze Van Herzeele that has been on a decade long journey to its debut release entitled Small Obstacles.
“Zura Zaj’s journey started ten years ago when three young musicians met in a university orchestra and started tuning their instruments to each other’s tastes and creativity. A Hungarian roommate called it “strange sounds”, or “zura zaj” in the dialect of his home region, and so our name was born…Small Obstacles is the outcome of a decade of searching and finding, of overcoming and bonding.” – Zura Zaj
The music these three musicians have created has the fabric of life woven into it. Songs and arrangements were conceived and honed over the years in their living rooms, attics, kitchens, gardens, and stages. During all this time, the band members navigated the courses of their respective lives – studying, moving, working, beginning and ending relationships. Happily, it seems that the release of the album is much more a beginning than an ending and there is an optimism to these ten vibrant songs that reflects that. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Belgium is also the birthplace of Django Reinhardt, as the sound of Zura Zaj has in its DNA some of the same vivaciousness and clever interplay of the free-spirited gypsy swing style he originated with Stéphane Grappelli. The journey from conception to release may have been arduous, but for the listener Small Obstacles is anything but. Unfettered, playful, and joyous with occasional respites of reflective beauty, this is the music of life.”
It is a privilege to premiere the first song from the new record. Sunlit, warm, and languid, “Alight” closes the album and features lovely finger-picking by Van Den Bossche which is soon scooped up by Van Herzeele’s violin and then soars on the wings of Baltussen’s horn. The video features footage shot in El Campello, Spain.
Small Obstacles will be available on CD & digital beginning May 8 via Homerecords and features striking artwork by Justina Česnauskaitė.
“The sea, the sea.
The journey, the waves.
The swell of the tide, the motion of drift.
Time folds back on itself and recommences again, ever changing, ever anew. We catch our breath and steer ahead towards a suggestion of lines on the horizon. Eastbound to where the sun rises, to where the tide caresses island shores, where acres of green stretch ahead. Landfall is nigh, we may alight soon.” – Zura Zaj