The connection between guitar and piano has been established for years not only in the classical world but also in jazz. Take a look at the tremendous collaborations of Bill Evans/Jim Hall, Bill Mays/Ed Bickert and Pat Martino/Gil Goldstein as examples, you can definitely find out that something magical can be created when these two instruments collide. The beauty of this bond is still brought by some of the maestros like guitarist Hristo Vitchev and pianist Weber Iago until today. Three years ago they started to open up the union resulted in one lovely package of beautiful jazz harmony with “The Secrets of an Angel”. Last February 2012 they were back again by presenting their second collaborative album where the harmony now feels deeper and tighter than ever, this time it’s called “Heartmony”.
Since the composition only relies on two instrumental, both players have to be connected in some certain (deeper) levels in order to bring something special, rich in harmony. That’s not a problem for Vitchev and Iago, since their friendship has grown and blossomed in a very special way. “I think this is directly reflected in music… it’s like having a conversation with your best friend.” said Vitchev to us. They are like brothers and have been working together throughout those years as well. For Vitchev, Heartmony continues his role as a leader after “Song For Messambria” (2009) in quartet, “The Secrets of an Angel” (2009) in duo and “The Perperikon Suite” (2011) in quintet formation.
For Heartmony, Vitchev wished to explore new territories from the beginning. If you listen to any of his compositions, you’ll realize how much he’s been into harmony. Being an artist who stands in between music and painting enables him to present something audibly beautiful. While his ideas towards harmony and beauty are limitless, he can somehow bring hundreds or even thousands of emotions and memories in simple drops of notes that can produce divine effects to reach one’s heart and soul. From this point he decided to take one step further which is slightly different than before, compositionally speaking. “All starts by me sitting on the piano and exploring the sound of a single chord. Then when my heart told me it was ready and wanted to move to a new place, I started exploring the possibilities and found the new sound and motion.” he said. In other word, what Vitchev tried to explain is that he wanted to loosen up, away from all the music theory and compositional concepts that he used in the past. More than ever, he embraces a very human and emotional approach by relying on his heart and ears. That’s where the name Heartmony appeared, the harmony and balance of the heart.
On the other side does Weber Ribeiro Drummond stand better known as Weber Iago. Give a minute to listen to him, you’ll find out that he’s extremely talented and amazing in many different ways. He never intends to lock himself inside any small box of genre. Instead he loves more to let his fingers dance freely above the keys, producing streams of melody running like a river. Often during the fingers dance he let out Jazz, New Age, Brazilian and Classical, also inspired by countless sources of music around the world, and the combination between them, flawlessly and spontaneously. He’s capable of doing the wild piano dance as well as peaceful or even spiritually meaningful melodies at the most artistic way. With all the uniqueness he possesses in him, no wonder his friends like to call him as ‘The Amazonian’.
By listening to what the heart says, 11 songs were made and featured in this album, all based on Vitchev’s experiences, memories or even the beauty of nature he passed by. If you look at the names of the songs, you’ll find the unusual names to be a song title because they look more like poetry verses or chapter of acts. If music were a painting, Vitchev and Iago could be two amazing expressionist artists who magically filled every spot with sensational, glittery and magical colors, along with many different hues and tonal shades. It’s the kind of music where genre doesn’t matter anymore. You may agree that the music still rooted in the jazz vein, but you’ll find enchanting Classical and landscapic New Age all over the compositions too. Genre doesn’t really matter anymore. All they want to do is to present the simultaneous combination of feelings and emotions pleasing to the heart, body and soul. Hence, it’s the harmony that comes from the heart, being sent to reach our hearts.
“Under Trees of Color, Over Fields of Grey” opened up the invention to enter the mesmerizing world of Heartmony. The feeling of trees with gently-swaying multi-colored leaves will come right at you from the very first minute on this one. “When I was sitting on the public bench park in San Fransisco, right next to me was the most beautiful tree, with leaves of many different colors. The hues were so vivid that they seemed like they are alive. I kept looking at it as the wind was gently swaying its leaves and then comparing its natural beauty to the background of concrete and steel skyscrapers, large paved roads, modern life, and the feel of the big modern metropolis all around me. It was a very interesting feeling. On the one hand you had something so naturally beautiful and fragile, but at the same time it adapted itself to exists in this suffocating world around it.” Vitchev recalled. What’s great about this is that you have enough time to revisit the feeling since the song has over 8-minute duration.
From there, the album invites us to another journey, “Musica Humana”, inspired by a Roman philosopher from 6th century “Boethius” who wrote one of the earliest text on music called “De Institutione Musica” in which he classified 4 different classes of music existed. “In one of his works he was to say “Music is so naturally united with us that we cannot be free from it even if we really intend to.” said Vitchev. He was very inspired by it especially with the spiritual harmony and let the song begin with lively syncopative tunes before they both go smooth and delicate with more than enough space to place their improvisations. The “Memories in Black and White” offers a road to sweet memory lane where you can smile in recollecting the past from old black and white pictures.
The beauty of nature appears again on the fourth track “the Last Leaves Which Fell in Fall”. This song perfectly describes the portrait of how the trees change color during the fall until all the last leaf fall in winter. “In a way it symbolizes the life cycle we all have to go through. What happens to the leaves of a tree happens to a human life over a much longer period in most cases,” said Vitchev. Capture the nuance of falling leaves in this one through Iago’s piano playing, simply magnificent.
The elegant yet gentle “Crepuscular Rays” gives a portrait of rays of sunlight that appear to radiate from a single point in the sky, stream through gaps in clouds. As usually these rays have their frequent occurrences during crepuscular/twilight hours (those around dawn and dusk) when the contrasts between light and dark are the most obvious. The runs of melodies in this song along with the resonances perfectly bring that vibe. In a way this song draws a red line to their previous duet CD where the wordless vocal by Iago also appeared as well on “Haiuri’s Dance”.
Next is the suite of “The Farewell”, consisting three songs “Prelude to an Act of Departure”, “The Imperative Expression”, and “And May We Meet Again”. This suite is really personal to Vitchev for a specific reason. “As you know I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria but then moved to South America and lived about 10 years in Venezuela before moving to USA. I have gone through this changes so many times that somehow I always have a melancholy for the past and the many great memories, experiences, friendships, and things lost.” he said. Some of us are not that good to the goodbyes, but some like Vitchev can understand that it’s a part of life that we have to be able to take, he even able to create something beautiful out of it. Look at how nice they were connected in the Prelude, focusing on the melodies without having the need to do anything too much inside. While “The Imperative Expression” sounds melancholy in mirroring the unavoidable expression where we have to bravely accept such changes, “And Way We Meet Again” gives a positive reminder that we all still have the hope to someday relive them again. The last song which opens up with a prelude, “The Melancholic Heart” once again takes a visit to the same issue, exposing the tender and sensitive side of Vitchev’s heart.
Nowadays when we’re surrounded by songs offering lots of negative messages or campaigns, it’s hard for us to find an album where the mesmerizingly beautiful artistic impressionistic soundscapes appears in its purest way, especially something that comes straight from the heart with full honesty. For that reason, we embrace this album dearly. Hristo Vitchev-Weber Iago’s second work “Heartmony” is simply one of the best music-painting we’ve heard recently. With the nuance where jazz and classical gathers in a holy matrimony, this is an album that can make you smile for its beauty, sparkling in every sides, rich in composition, elegant, enchanting and sincere, it can also be used as a self-healing therapy for the positive energy found in the album. While they are presenting something pure straight from the heart like this, they never loose grip on the technical sides of playing. And it’s simply inspiring to see how two best friends can come out with this miraculous package where the intimate and colorful conversation between two instruments appear at best.
“My second duet with my musical brother Weber Iago and surely not the last one,” he says. We hope that to be true, because their collaboration will change your perception of listening to good music. The whole album could be about everything you know – your life’s experiences, memories, the lovely nature as the gift from above, or it can be like being stunned over the most beautiful painting. Give it a try and let the melodies land softly in your heart. It’s the harmony and balance of the heart, sent from their hearts to yours.
Under Trees of Color, Over Fields of Grey
Memories in Black and White
The Last Leaves which Fell in Fall
Prelude to the Crepuscular Rays
Prelude to an Act of Departure
The Imperative Expression
And May We Meet Again
Prelude to a Melancholic Heart
The Melancholic Heart