The Free-Reed Review
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CD Review: Bata Kanda
Marmonika Za Sva Vremena—Plays With Heart and Soul
total time: 68:24
Bata Kanda, accordion
The Kandoro Studio Ensemble
All compositions by Vladeta Kandic (Bata Kanda), except as otherwise noted.
Review by Henry Doktorski:
Bata Kanda! Bata Kanda! Bata Kanda!
(Please excuse my enthusiasm, but while this CD is playing on my stereo, I can think of nothing other than Bata Kanda!)
Bata Kanda, also known by his legal name of Vladeta Kandic, is, in my mind, a great Serbian folk/jazz accordionist/vocalist. He was a member for fifteen years of the "Branko Krsmanovic" Belgrade University Academic Association as a soloist. He was also artistic leader of the National Folklore Orchestra and a member of the Academic Choir. His playing is stunning, his virtuosity brilliant, and his improvisations fluid, honed to perfection after more than two decades of performing and recording in his native Yugoslavia. And the ensemble backing him up (including bass fiddle, drums, banjo or guitar, piccolo, trumpets and synthesizer) reflects his high degree of taste and skill. The orchestrations are very well written; the accordion is featured just enough, not too much, and other musicians get their turn to shine.
When I put this CD on my stereo and heard the infectious beat and the wild half-sung Serbian vocals, I was tempted to jump out of my seat, wave my arms over my head and scream, "Let's Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaarty!" (Had I been with a gathering of friends with a beer in hand, I might have done just that!)
What were some of my favorite tracks? Bata Kanda's hearty vocals in No. 6 Veliko Devojacko Kolo made me want to get up and dance. I liked the folk/rock beat (in 7/8 time) of No. 7 Tanino Oro with bass guitar and drums and synthesizer. The Latin beat, with trumpets, congas, cowbell and scat singing of No. 9 Kandin Sa! Sa! was also memorable, as was the fiddle solo in No. 12 Najciganskije Vasarski Kolo.
But my two favorite tracks—given my own personal taste and bias—were Nos. 10 Thirteen and 11 Altana. The former piece began with a positively exhilarating 1:30 minute duet bagpipe solo with non-tempered tuning and then concluded with a 1:18 minute rock drum solo. The latter piece—Altana featured a deliciously distorted raving-mad electric guitar solo (in 11/8 time) which, in my opinion, seemed as good as anything I've heard by Eddie Van Halen. The guitar solo was followed by a dreamy accordion solo by Bata Kanda; curiously a nice juxtaposition -- the electric guitar and accordion—a combination I don't hear every day.
The sound quality is excellent, although sometimes at the ends of songs you can hear what appears to be hiss from the analog master tapes. The CD booklet notes are sparse although there is a brief biographical note about Bata Kanda by the conductor Bogdan Babic.
Bata Kanda, indeed, plays with heart and soul. I loved this great mix of Serbian folk and Western rock, and I think you will too!
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