I ran into Saso Popovski via a friend request on Facebook and checked out his profile. I discovered he was a Jazz guitarist, then I saw the word “Slide” in conjunction with the guitar, which immediately got my attention.
First, I’ve been listening to Jazz guitarist for a bunch of years and only heard a few Jazz players that used a slide guitar, impressively, in their work. Second, I play the slide guitar, not Jazz, but an aggressive country juke joint style; however, I’m always interested in listening to someone else’s’ work in case they have some licks down I might want to steal.
Popovski sent me a link to his unreleased debut album, “Fallen Land.”
On the first track, “Fallen Land” Popovski’s opening was vaguely familiar to me as a lead-in to a 1950s Rock tune, but I couldn’t quite place it. As I listened to the album, every track had an underlying element I couldn’t quite place but was familiar none the less.
I went back and listened to each track numerous times attempting to figure out what the intriguing influences behind each piece were. After asking Popovski, it turned out, it was all ephemeral, and he simply assimilates all the music he hears and taps into his cerebral cortex for random inspirations that to the listener like me have reminiscent echos of tunes they heard in the past.
To Listen to Album Preview track click on the above photo.
On one track, I picked up a Country & Western feel and asked Popowski about it, he said, “It was probably something I picked up from a Western movie soundtrack.”
Popovski doesn’t improvisationally dwell on the initial opening but reintroduces it again after three or four verses to ground the tune.
Each track is composed of short improvisational adventures with an element of enigmatic mystery that you can never quite solve.
The two tracks, Popowski utilizes slide guitar were “On the Mountian Top” and “Elgon Sky.”
Slides made from different materials that create different tonal qualities on the guitar. Popowski exhibited his understanding of that on those two tunes.
With “On Mountain Top,” he uses a brass slide that gives the work a warm feel, whereas, on “Elgon Sky,” he uses a glass slide with finger
picking giving the work a more crisp, Country & Western laptop feel.
Both examples, slide guitar techniques, were masterfully used to create melody and harmony lines accompanying his guitar work on those tracks.
In his live work, Popovski includes more Blues/Rock influences such as bending notes, hammer-ons, and a strong, uptempo rhythm element that most contemporary Jazz guitarists tend to avoid.
Everything about “Fallen Land” is laid back, interesting, and listenable.
Viktor Filipovski on drums & percussion creates alternating time signatures giving the pieces an unpredictable quality and punch that holds the listener’s interest.
Bassist, Ivan Bejkov holds down the rhythm and does some excellent solo bits. On Fallen Land, Bejkov uses the bow to great effect.
Popovski is a North Macedonian guitarist who went from listening to Rock and Roll into Jazz.
Popovski won the Macedonian Ministry of Culture contest and will be going to New York for a ten-day trip the promote “Fallen Land” in December 2020.”
Unfortunately, the release of “Fallen Land” has been delayed because of the Coronavirus pandemic; however, I obtained permission to use “Elgon Sky” from the album to illustrate Popovski’s slide guitar work.