Decked out in ‘Blues Brothers’ shades and a shocking pink suit Boris Kovač holds his saxophone tight to his chest and cuts an elusive figure on stage. Creeping, crawling melodies emanate from the bell of his instrument, his shape-shifting horn side-winding in parallel with bandmate Goran’s gymnastic accordion lines. A light jazz touch on the drums in tandem with resonant double bass and guitar voicing propels each tune along.

Boris was born in Novi Sad, the second largest city in Serbia, which lies nestled in the crook of the River Danube’s S-shaped meander. His work as a back-bendingly flexible artist has seen him take to the stage as composer, instrumentalist, multimedia artist and theatre collaborator. 

Eastern Moon Rising opens with a steamy sustained chord across the ensemble before launching into strutting first track ‘Fly by’. Striking tracks ‘My Eastern Heart’ and ‘On An Eastern Path’ take direct inspiration from Boris’ Serbian roots, drawing on the wellspring of folk music from his homeland. ‘Play Odd’ features Miloš’ somber double bass tone. Shortly a shimmering hi-hat and snare snarl into the mix with Boris’ sotto voce saxophone following close behind. ‘Pearl’ is anchored by rippling broken chords and a broadly spaced lead accordion line. ‘Pannonian Blues’ plays on an exposition of drawling melodic figures that are passed around the ensemble from accordion to soprano saxophone to guitar and finally to section where the instruments work in unison. Musically ‘Pannonian Blues’ is based upon Romanian doina style – a free-rhythm, improvisational approach to constructing melody. The track takes its title from the East-Central European region of Pannonia that belongs in part to Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Croatia. Boris describes the striking Pannonian landscape as ‘mysterious and melancholic’. ‘Simple, Simple Life…’ is a carefree lilting tune that features distant yodels and shouts that decorate the closing sequence. ‘Sini Vals’ (or ‘Grey Waltz’) opens with a sombre instrumental passage that sounds almost funeral-istic, before switching first into a peppy jazz waltz that first calls to mind French chanson and then snowballs into a brilliantly bizarre prog-rock tango feel. ‘Caravan’ pays homage to Middle Eastern tradition with ululating string textures, a softly hummed voice part and woody clarinet lines. ‘Entertain You’ is the only song on the album spotlighting Boris’ eccentric vocal growl. 

Boris’ music is post-futuristic – it eschews genre and plays on clichéd expectations with its overblown drama and melancholy. As we kneel to worship at Boris’ Eastern Moon Rising, the ultimate Balkan entertainer blazes on high once again.

Boris Kovač & La Campanella - Live In Concert