Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Leb i Sol 1 & 2 (1978)

LEB I SOL (Eng. "Bread and Salt") was a premier fusion ex-Yugoslavian band. They were formed on 1 January 1976 in Skopje, the present "Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia", with the original line-up consisting of: Vlatko Stefanovski-guitar and vocals, Bodan Arsovski-bass, Nikola Dimusevski-keyboards and Dimitrije Cucurovski-drums. In mid-1977 Garabet Tavitijan replaced Cucurovski on drums and this line-up would last until 1980, making the first three albums of largely instrumental Macedonian ethno-jazz-fusion that remain their best work so far. Dimusevski left in 1980, to be replaced for a short time by Miki Petkovski (ex-SMAK) but he also quit shortly. The remaining members decided to continue as a trio (without keyboards), so the fourth album introduced a change of music direction from pure jazz-fusion into more rock-based territory, retaining some ethno-fusion elements but making them more accessible to mainstream pop/rock audience. Tavitijan left in summer 1982 and his replacement was Dragoljub Djuricic, ex-YU GRUPA drummer. The same year they changed their record label from Belgrade-based PGP RTB to Zagreb-based Jugoton. The 8th album "Tangenta" was produced by the Canterbury scene veteran Kevin Ayers. Tavitijan was back on drums in 1986, while the following year they added saxophone and keyboards for "Kao kakao" album, making another radical shift towards AOR laid-back sound with all vocal tracks, including several pop-hits, abandoning prog explorations almost entirely. Dimusevski was back in team for the last studio album "Putujemo" in 1989, while Djuricic again replaced Tavitijan on drums for the North American tour and "Live in New York" album in 1991. They played their farewell concert in Thessalonica, Greece, December 1995, after which LEB I SOL disbanded. Stefanovski and Arsovski founded their private label Third Ear Music in 1990 and continued with successful solo careers.In the beginning LEB I SOL were much under influence of SMAK, especially in similar attempt to marry the jazz-rock instrumental approach with the traditional Balkan sounds. First two albums are essential collection of excellent instrumental songs often covering the Macedonian traditionals. "Rucni rad" is their most demanding effort, exploring the deep space of jazz improvisation, while the fourth album, although reduced to basic rock trio, still carries the spirit of fusion. Stefanovski was always considered one of the best guitarist of the former Yugoslavia, although his technique is quite similar to Allan Holdsworth's or John McLaughlin's. Arsovski was on the other hand a champion of the fretless bass playing. Similar artist on the international scene would include WEATHER REPORT, GONG or MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, so LEB I SOL is highly recommended to the fans of these. Also those in favour of Canterbury scene or ethnic-fusion will probably find many interesting moments in listening to LEB I SOL albums. Their late 1980s work would appeal to the listeners of a laid-back jazzy type of art-rock. This is the most important and the most popular Macedonian band of all times and one of the best ex-Yugo bands.

Leb i Sol 1
Leb i Sol 2
!! = tt

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