Arkana Music Hyprovisation

Arkana Music are a project from pianist Ali Berkok. As noted in the band’s bio, their aim is to create energetic music by blurring the lines between compositional and improvised sections. The average listener will certainly pick up on this but the disc starts out politely, revealing its twisted charms further in. Breaking the ice with a head that wouldn’t seem out of place in Dave Brubeck or the Modern Jazz Quartet’s repertoire, the band switches deftly between double- and half-time. Berkok’s solo starts by tracing the oblique chord changes then commenting on them in a way that doesn’t follow the forward momentum of the song. The noir-ish bop groove becomes more melodic as the tempo accelerates and decelerates. There is a historical/retro feel to the motifs of these songs, such as the "Jitterbug Waltz”-like stride piano opening to "Drive.” But this is history traced from the ’30s to the present, especially when the band’s collective structures on slower songs such as "Brooding” let loose contemporary dissonance in seemingly familiar settings. (Independent)