(This review was published in the September 26, 2016 issue of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.)
Kroke is a trio – Tomasz Kukurba on viola, Jerzy Bawol on accordion, and Tomasz Lato on double bass – formed more than 20 years ago by three graduates of the Academy of Music in Kraków, Poland (Kroke is Yiddish for Kraków), to play traditional klezmer music.
While their music – which is mostly instrumental, but with vocalizing that usually seems wordless – remains inspired by klezmer music, Ten, obviously their 10th album, is filled entirely with their lovely, sometimes brooding, original compositions.
The interplay of the three musicians (plus percussionist Slawek Berny on six of the nine tracks and vocalist Anna Maria Jopek on one) is quite remarkable. The instruments weave in and around each other sometimes supporting a soloist, sometimes achieving a unified almost-orchestral sound.
Among the highlights are “Mirrors,” the longest piece at seven minutes, a musical conversation in which textures and tempos constantly shift; “Once Upon a Time,” which seems like it could be a soundtrack to a fairytale’s walk in the woods; and “Passacaglia for 3,” a quietly layered composition highlighted by the pulsing, heartbeat-like pacing of Lato’s bass.