Kaja Draksler Acropolis Quintet

kaja
 
In 2006, pianist and composer Kaja Draksler, winner of Deloitte Jazz Award 2009, formed the Kaja Draksler Acropolis Quintet with her fellow students at Prins Claus Conservatorium in Groningen (George Dumitriu on guitar and electronics, Goran Krmac on tuba and Kristijan Krajnčan, semi-finalist at Thelonious Monk Competition 2012, on drums). In 2008 the group was joined by Turkish singer Sanem Kalfa, winner of Montreux Jazz Vocal Prize 2010.
The first record of the group was released by Goga Music in 2007 and entitled Akropola, featuring two Slovenian artists – Jure Pukl and Robert Jukič. Their second CD was released in 2009 under the name of Turku (DruGod Records) and is featuring the singer Sanem Kalfa.
Kaja Draksler Acropolis Quintet is focusing on the original music of all the five members. Innovative musicians are combining their culture with classical and jazz music, incorporating intriguing improvisation and spontaneous forms. Their sound spectrum is wide and colorful, combining acoustic and electronic sonorities, their compositions range from  through-composed to completely free.
The quintet was chosen as one of the three bands for the prestigious 12 Points! Plus Programe and performed at festivals like Skopje Jazz Festival, Ljubljana Jazz Festival, 12 Points! Festival, Vossa Jazz Festival, Akbank Jazz Festival in Istanbul, and Jazzkaar in Tallinn.
 
Kaja Draksler – piano
Sanem Kalfa – voice
George Dumitriu – guitar and electronics
Mattia Magatelli – double bass
Kristijan Krajncan – drums
 
From here you can access videos of the band.
 

JazzWise Online Magazine, May 2011
“Yet perhaps unintentionally the festival’s wild cards from Slovenia (though ironically based in relatively close proximity in Amsterdam) pianist Kaja Draksler took things to a completely different level with her stunning Acropolis Quintet. Rather than mining a straightforward mix of Balkan folk melodies, theirs was a wide-ranging sound world seamlessly splicing together Eastern modalities, deft Chick Corea-esque compositions, crunching Downtown-ish guitars and subtle electronica over urgent bass and drum figures to create a perfectly balanced hybrid sound. This was contemporary music making of the highest order, with the stunning vocals of Sanem Kalfa finessing their already intoxicating brew with a beguiling approach that found common ground between plaintive folk and excitable jazz harmonies. The band reached their rhythmic peak on guitarist George Dumitriu’s locomotive inspired tune ‘Pacific’ with its interlocking grooves delivered with feverish intensity.
It was going to take something very special indeed to surpass let alone equal this show of strength, yet 12 Points! is all about camaraderie not competition, and with the audience palpably buzzing, they were ready for even more sonic exotica.”
by Mike Flynn

Irish Times
“Once again, it’s the middle act that takes the most risks on the 12 Points paper, but are also in danger of delivering the most explosive set. Slovenian pianist Kaja Draksler leads a truly international cast of characters and influences in her Acropolis quintet, with musicians from Romania, Italy and Turkey bringing their own sounds to bear on the music.
There is no way this music should work; Draksler brings austerity, subtlety and poignancy with her fluid piano playing, and rings through in bright, rich textures. Drummer Kristijan Krajncan lays down muscular beats that are supple and intense; guitarist George Dumitriu introduces bursts of electronic colour that contrast with the excellent organic, brooding basslines of Mattia Magatelli, and Turkish singer Sanem Kalfa threatens to steal a show with her melancholic, dramatic vocal that haunts the instrumentation and holds the whole proposal together.
If it sounds complicated, it is – but this is a carefully considered, well marshalled intricacy. It would be all to easy for this band to stumble over each othe’s lines and introduce too many elements to the palette, but the control and restraint they show around the central themes makes for an epic, elegant set that demands to be listened to, and there is a joy on stage and in the music making that make it a privilege to be in the room with. The songs are built up into a tower of sound that references all the glittering influences at play before collapsing down with exquisite musical drama. Perhaps the best set of the week then, and a band that are ready to establish themselves on bigger stages than this.
So how do you follow that, and put a coda on what has been one of the most inventive, creative and expressive festivals in Ireland in quite some time? Simple – strip it back to a Finnish trio, let them plant some pop seeds that germinate into jazzy green shoots and fill a room with bursts of sound and colour.”
by Laurence Mackin