Song of the Day: Lucian Ban, John Surman and Mat Maneri, “The Dowry Song”

Between 1908 and 1917, the groundbreaking Hungarian composer Béla Bartók recorded and transcribed over 3400 Romanian folk songs from Transylvania. The recordings included carols, lamentations, love songs, dowry songs and more. This expansive and fascinating archive served as the inspiration for a fascinating collaboration between three outstanding improvisers – Lucian Ban, Mat Maneri and John Surman. The collection, titled Transylvanian Folk Songs and released on Sunnyside Records, opens on a sprightly note. On “The Dowry Song,” Surman’s edgy baritone saxophone engages in a stately dance with Ban’s rhythmic piano motif, the pair soon joined by Maneri’s stringent viola. The piece grows in intensity as it unfolds, whirling like revelers at a wedding who have enjoyed the free libations before quieting into somewhat somber reflection.

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