Music for Music: Rossitza Milevska
Music for Music is our new column by Dan Ursini. He’ll be finding wonderful new music for us on YouTube!
Music for Music: Charting the Endless Music Video Horizon—a Vista of Digital Information the Size of a Polar Continent: Rossitza Milevska
©2017 Dan Ursini
The Internet is absolutely porous with sources of music videos, available free, for hours on end. It overwhelms. There’s no shape to it, no contours. We have to dig in and explore. But once the tundra is penetrated, lines of inquiry appear, and we have access to music as exceptional as it is unfamiliar.
Today let’s check on a Bulgarian-French harpist who taps into fresh possibilities in using her instrument in jazz.
We find on YouTube Rossitza Milevska. When I first came across her music, I couldn’t believe what she was doing. She had found a way to play the concert harp in absolutely contemporary terms. Her work with her jazz trio showed that she listened to a range of soloists—harpists but also pianists and guitarists. She has developed a style that is elegant, concise and powerful. There is a marvelous use of space that is perfect for the harp. Yet it sets her totally apart from anybody else playing the harp in jazz or pop settings.
This fresh approach is clear in her early jazz trio’s take on a fusion-era standard, Chick Corea’s “Spain”:
Over time, I have realized that her work with jazz harp was just one expression of a larger vision of a very curious and ambitious musical thinker. She has done some remarkable work in other genres and other French musical artists, particularly vocalist Kristel Adams:
The performance both Adams and Milevska is brave and intense and gripping.
Milevska’s jazz trio work continues:
Their rendition of Astor Piazzolla’s “La muerte del angel” displays very sensitive playing, with quiet muted passages alternating with sections of chilling obsessive energy.
Her artistic growth continues with adventurous solo work, including an early jazz standard, Duke Ellington’s “Caravan”:
Hers is an intriguing arrangement, with unexpected shifts and highly precise playing.
There is much more range to Rossitza Milevska’s work than I can indicate here. I recommend her YouTube channel (see link below). I have focused on what I consider her most exciting work with the harp. She and Edmar Castaneda and others are exploring this instrument in a way that reminds me of how Jean-Luc Ponty, Vassar Clements, and Sugarcane Harris transformed the use of the violin in jazz, bluegrass, and rock back in the Seventies. Her music is that good.
Dan Ursini and his wife Valerie live in Oak Park, Illinois. Over the years he has done many kinds of writing. Ursini served as the first resident playwright for the Steppenwolf Theatre of Chicago (1978-1983); he worked for ten years as a Contributing Editor for Puerto Del Sol magazine ; he wrote performance art pieces presented at Chicago venues as Club Lower Links and Club Dreamerz. Ursini wrote radio theatre presented on NPR in the early 1990s. Throughout all this, he has worked full-time at the Law Library at DePaul University where for a decade he also wrote articles for Dialogue, the DePaul law school’s alumni publication . In addition, he was active for some years as a bass guitarist in various Chicago blues/gospel/funk/lounge configurations. Currently Ursini is working on his latest novel. A play he wrote with Robert Rothman, A Mensch Among Men, a fictionalized account of real-life Jewish Chicago-area gangsters, recently had two staged readings in Chicago.