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This release is a pan-European project involving musicians from Bulgaria, France, Macedonia and Serbia in an eleven-piece led by pianist/ arranger Vladimir Nikolov, who has worked with various orchestras and musicians such as RANDY BRECKER and CHAKA KHAN and drummer Srdjan Ivanović, whose first album as leader is also reviewed on this site.

The album starts with ‘Scream’, a wordless but dynamic musical protest conceived during the dark days of lockdown; there is a classic post-bop feel about the sound, with lots of sax and a refreshingly leftfield contribution by Nikolov’s piano and accordionist Noé Clerc, who plays a highly significant role in this recording. ‘Changing Landscapes’ has some wonderful ensemble playing, and ‘Something to Look Forward To’ is a fabulous example of ‘small big band’ playing. The emotive sound of ‘Lament of a City’ warmed up the room, while ‘Résistance’ features double bass, accordion and some nimble piano arpeggios, and a fine exchange between the accordion and the brass section, including a fine solo by Clerc. The title track is another protest piece on which Nikolov plays a Rhodes electric piano, while the 8-minute long ‘Sincere Greed’ has some intense sax and trumpet, some well-judged soloing, with the accordion again central to the music, and a tidy little drum break thrown in for full measure.

The standard of composition, performance and arrangement on “Dystopia” is outstanding throughout on a highly accomplished and intelligently conceived album with the idea, to quote the press release, that “some of us watch the terrible news from the comfort of our home, while others fight for their life and experience true horror.” This is music with heart and soul and fully deserving of attention in the jazz world and beyond.

Contacts for this and Srdjan Ivanovic’s album are: Catherine Simon: The website for the band is


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