Jazz Quad

Rajiv Jayaweera Pistils

Outside in Music, 2020

Until now, the musician of Sri Lankan origin has only appeared in our reviews once, and then as a sideman. So, composer, band leader and drummer Rajiv Jayaweera is the first Lankan to be featured on the site with an author's work. True, Rajiv has only Sri Lankan roots, but he was born in London, grew up in Melbourne and received his first musical education in Australia. By the way, the album Pistlis, the debut for Rajiv, was created with the assistance of the Australian Council for the Arts. But Jayaweera has lived and worked for the last ten years in New York and is in great demand in the jazz capital of the world: he played here with many famous musicians and performed on the stages of the most prestigious clubs. Rajiv also played at many major jazz festivals in different countries - in Tokyo, London, Montreux, Copenhagen.

Rajiv Jayaweera recorded his debut album in April 2019 in New York. The program of nine tracks is entirely his own music. Experienced New York musicians took part in the recording of the album with him, and on two tracks the vocals are performed by the Spaniard Lara Bello. The already bright "tropical" cover suggests that the main theme of Jayaweera work was the memories of the ancestral homeland - Beautiful Lanka: this is how the name Sri Lanka sounds in translation. One might assume that ethnicity predominates in music as well. However, with the exception of the fact that Rajiv himself used several ethnic percussion instruments when recording, including the Sri Lankan thammattama or temple drum, and the names of most of the compositions, you do not feel a significant influence of ethnic motives in the music itself. The ensemble under the direction of Rajiv Jayaweera plays music close to the modern mainstream, with a solo saxophone (Chris Chick), piano, guitar and rhythm group. At the same time, the leader of the band does not overuse some solo improvisations. Jayaweera is more busy thinking about the coherence of the ensemble sound and the accurate transfer of his composing ideas. The program of the album is built in the form of a kind of rondo, beginning and ending with the piece Pistils, only in the opening version Lara Bello sings, and in the purely instrumental finish track Chris Chick comes to the fore. For me, a kind of peak of the album fell in the middle: I especially note such compositions as Nilus and The Elephant. However, there is plenty to choose from: the album shows that in the person of Rajiv Jayaweera we are meeting a very interesting and creative master.

Leonid Auskern