Tatavla was, it appears, a neighbourhood in Istanbul where the Greek speaking community once performed much music, especially songs that celebrated the Byzantine tradition of wine songs. This musical genre seemingly existed pre-rembetiko and thus is largely forgotten today in a Greece that prefers to erase any connection to a time when Asia Minor was a blend of Orthodox and Muslim communities who shared music and food and much else. Tcha Limberger, the polymath Belgian fiddler whose versatility has found him mastering Gypsy jazz, Transylvanian folk and the long forgotten Budapest Magyar Nota music, digs into tatavla music with Greek accordionist Dimos Vougioukas and Belgian guitarist Benjamin Clement. The 12 numbers here are largely instrumental – Limberger sings on occasion, his voice is adequate yet less impressive than his fiddling – and find the fiddle and accordion locked into a sublime duet of sorts as they push and pull the music every which way (guitar is largely an accompanying rhythm instrument here). I can’t claim any prior knowledge of tatavla music but what’s here, acoustic and superbly recorded, has a fresh, vivacious feel to it, Trio Tatavla adding atmosphere and dynamic to the day. Anyone interested in music from the Balkans/Asia Minor will find Tatavla an inspired, very enjoyable album.
This, first and foremost, is a labour of both love and scholarship. As he has done with his traditional Transylvanian, Romanian and Gypsy recordings, Tcha Limberger combines a career as a violinist with that of an academic, specialising here in the music of Byzantine era Constantinople (Istanbul) Greek “Tatavla” celebratory music. And here the violinist becomes the pivot of an extraordinary trio that also includes Dimos Vougioukas on accordion and Benjamin Clement on guitar. The traditional repertoire played by the Trio Tatavla brings vivid local colour, a bright and emotional landscape and is magically combined with greater freedom and enriched harmonic experimentation.
All this while styling essentially true to tradition in rhythms such as karsilama and syrto. Moreover, the three musicians engage each instrument in remarkable melodic shaping and also in complexity of accompaniment. Each and every complex piece is exquisitely shaped allowing the musicians to be rhapsodically introspective and eloquent throughout.
In Tatavla music the heraldic and celebratory combines with the natural world which is frequently present and ever enigmatic. Nature here is not domesticated and anthropomorphised; it’s wild and strange and beautiful. Contours, tones, shiftings of sound are pieced together with a logic that’s rigorous, yet at the same time delirious. The cycle of songs, featuring Tcha Limberger’s violin and voice at the core features thrilling extended techniques on the accordion by Mr. Vougioukas and sublime textural layering by Mr. Clement’s guitar. Together with Mr. Limberger, the three musicians’ performances are brilliantly committed and utterly compelling.
Track list – 1: Foties (Dance from Mytilini – trad); 2: Manes tis kalinihtias (Amane/Lament song – trad); 3: Megaritikos karsilamas (Karsilama dances from Megara – trad); 4: Memetis (Song from Smyrni/Izmir – trad); 5: Pergamos ((Zeibekiko dance from Pergamos – trad) & Aidinikos (Dance from Aidini – trad); 6: Ematha pos paizeis zaria & Hasapiko (Hasapiko dance from Constantinople – trad); 7: Vale me stin agkalia sou; 8: Antikrystos horos (Opposite dance – trad); 9: Smyrni me ta perichora; 10: Aptalikos from Mytilini (Trad); 11: Harmandalis zeibekiko (Zeibekiko dance from Lesbos Island – trad); 12: Romanian cantec, Manes tis augis (Amane/Lament song – trad) & Romanian hora
Personnel – Dimos Vougioukas: accordion; Tcha Limberger: violin and vocals; Benjamin Clement: guitar
Released – 2017
Label – lejazzetal Records
Runtime – 55:24
RAUL DE GAMA
Tatavla – LJCD19
DIMOS VOUGIOUKAS – accordion
TCHA LIMBERGER – violin/voice
BENJAMIN CLEMENT – guitar
Recorded at Antart Productions, Athens
25/26 February 2017
Engineered by Giannis Baxevanis
Mastered by Minerva Pappi at Waudio
c & p 2017 Lejazzetal Records, London
Produced by Lejazzetal Records
Package design & artwork by Dave Kelbie
Assisted by Kathryn at Prestset
Manufactured in the EU by The Digital Audio Co Ltd
traditional musician puppets by Sotiris Papatragiannis
Sleeve notes by Kyriakos Gouventas
Translation by Frans De Clercq
Many thanks to Sotiris Papatragiannis, Sebastien
Carmentrand for his beautiful guitar, and everyone at
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