Review of Bent Grooves CD Launch, Sound Lounge, Sydney, 9th May 2008

Such was a celebration of various cultures through regional music, a reflection of the endless pursuit of diversity for Kim Sanders. Whilst performances sharing the theme of diversity have not gone un-acknowledged over the past decade, it felt to me like the shackles of the Howard monoculture had finally been broken during this performance which represented more than just creative music but friendship, inclusiveness, respect and genuine inter-cultural collaboration. Sanders might look like a gypsy with his long greying locks, his Bohemian garb and his goat skin bags but his manner and his dialogue is as Aussie as the next bloke and this fact almost defies the reality of his ability to converse in several languages across the Asian, European and African continents, let alone his ability to foster musical conversations in as many languages using over 14 wind instruments.
Along with Kim Sanders, the core quartet of the ‘Friends’ include Sandy Evans tenor and soprano saxophones, Bobby Singh tabla and Steve Elphick double bass. They opened with Heyamoli a Northern Turkish lament which saw Kim playing Turkish gaida (bagpipe) and Sandy in unison on tenor.
Next they performed the suite A Journey in Saba Makam. The ney is a sufi flute made of bamboo which Sanders freely improvised the first movement Bas Taksim over a singular Elphick drone followed by the additive of Evans and Singh. Such was Evans sensitivity on tenor during the second movement Saba Nefes I that her shadowing was simply an additional tonal flavour of the smokey fluted melody. The final movement showcased the awe-inspiring talent of Singh on tabla.
Sanders who is also a keen surfer, at one time took up the boogie board instead and soon found that serious surfers refer to them as a Speedbump but what commenced as a gypsy jam ended up a Congolese groove thanks mainly to the synchronicity of both Singh and Elphick.
Yet another continent was thrown into the mix with the addition of Chilean Carlos Villanueva and his Andean charango playing the flamenco tinged The Bad Bodgie Bulerias. With an almost clenched fist, Villanueva’s finger nails rapidly raked the repeated four chords of this piece on this instrument of only ukelele dimensions. By now parts of the capacity crowd were shrieking.
Kay Yagar which is interpreted as ‘snow is falling’ was a further showcase of Sanders skills; this time on the double reeded flute, the mey. His circular breathing and tonguing of this instrument created a spellbinding vibrato which preceded his swap to the bagpipes. Another dimension of this piece was the addition of Llew Kiek from the renowned band Mara! on the baglama or Turkish lute.
Istanbul Blues allowed Sandy Evans on tenor a precursor of what was to come on Oi Havar where she simply soared, taking the audience with her on a carpet ride of freedom and joyous expression.
When George Doukas arrived on stage the battle of the bouzouki’s began with Kiek choosing his own richly decorated axe. While Doukas proved a virtuoso, nothing was going to prepare us for the arrival of the final friend Bobby Dimitrievski on clarinet who displayed an agility on the instrument which is rarely witnessed. Following a standing ovation the group finally returned to the stage for a fitting finale. But what was probably the most musically intuitive passage of the performance came after Evans (during her solo) cried to Dimitrievski to ‘join in Bobby’. The result was a lesson to us all in genuine conversation where listening is just as important as speech when the magic of their respective instruments interwove a singular dialect of perfect harmony.
This was nothing less than a triumphant performance by Kim Sanders and Friends

– Peter Wockner, Jazz and Beyond, May 08 (www.jazzandbeyond.com.au)

Review: Bent Grooves, Michael Rofe, Weekend Australian, December 2008

Kim Sanders is one of those unsung Australian musical pioneers who is following his own vision to create his sound while acknowledging his Middle eastern influences.  Bent Grooves is a wonderful collaboration, indicative of the remarkable musical talent to be found in Australia, far beyond anything created by the superficial or the idols so prominent in the media.  The master of a variety of reed instruments, including the sublime Sufi reed flute (ney), Sanders creates a sound at once evocative and melodic, with grace and humour.  He is accompanied by Australia’s pre-eminent saxophonist, Sandy Evans, the rhythmically subtle bassist Steve Elphick, Indian tabla master Bobby Singh and fellow explorer Llew Kiek playing baglama (lute) as well as several guests.  With excellent production by Tony Gorman and sound engineering by Ross A’Hern, this is a gem worth investigating.  In a perfect world, these artists would figure among out national treasures.

– Michael Rofe, Weekend Australian, Dec 13-14, 2008.

Rating: 4 ½ stars (out of 5)

Review: Bent Grooves, Kuranda Seyit, Aussie Mossie, September 2008

This album combines some of the old Kim with new Kim, fresh from a stint in Turkey you can hear the experimental combinations of saxophone and traditional Turkish instruments, unlike some of the older stuff this is really pushing the boundaries, so much so that one gets lost in the mix and you don’t know where you are any longer. It’s melifluous and soothing but its real triumph is finding the right balance between West and East.  Kim’s on a roll and we look forward to more of the right stuff.

– Kuranda Seyit, Aussie Mossie, Sept 2008

Review: Trance’n’Dancin, Jaslyn Hall, Limelight Magazine, 2008

This is an energetic and distinctive blend of virtuoso playing from multi-instrumentalist Kim Sanders, masterfully accompanied by Peter Kennard’s magic trunk of percussion… Trance’nDancin features several different fascinating musical styles – Sufi meditations, Turkish lullabies, trance music, folk tunes – as well as an enigmatic track, “Solitary Circumambulation”, which Sanders claims is the world’s first composition for gaida (Balkan bagpipes) and Hammond organ. Sanders is a relentless champion of world music and this CD celebrates the freshness and sheer excitement of the Balkan and Turkish traditions with added new twists and a funky rhythm section to create a joyful session of music for listening or dancing.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

– Jaslyn  Hall, ABC Limelight Magazine

Review: Bent Grooves, Bradfield Dumpleton, Indie Cds, 2008

Australian multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of contemporary world music Kim Sanders has once again gathered together some of his equally gifted musical friends for this exquisitely rendered collaboration.  This collection draws on traditions of Turkish Sufi and folk music, Balkan Gypsy, West African grooves, Indian Classical music and world jazz-fusion, and weaves these flavours together seamlessly.  The textures are smooth and often sultry, the rhythms are hypnotic, the melodies rich and the moods mostly mellow.

Sanders plays his usual array of Turkish & Bulgarian bagpipes & flutes, and is joined on this excursion by Bobby Singh (tabla), Sandy Evans (saxes), Carlos Vilanueva (charango), Steve Elphick (double bass), George Doukas (bouzouki, baglama), Llew Kiek (baglama) and Bobby Dimitrievski (clarinet).

Those familiar with Kim Sanders know that he has immersed himself first-hand in the cultures he draws from, living, travelling and making music in all these places, and his cohorts are similarly world class representatives of world music and jazz in Australia and overseas.  As a result this album offers the kind of relaxed yet intricate musical dialogues that can only flow with such seasoned players.

The bagpipes and saxophones figure prominently over the whole album, setting a certain consistent texture overall, but there are also some wonderful moments when the other instruments step forward and shine.   There is a fiery bouzouki (or is it baglama?) solo in Only A Surfer Knows The Feeling, and for the languid flamenco jazz of Bad Bodgie Bulerias the charango is invited to take the floor.  In the four-part Journey In Saba Makam the double bass and tabla are given some elbowroom.  In fact the rhythm section of Steve Elphick and Bobby Singh are consistently brilliant throughout the recording, anchoring complex beats and elaborate timings without it ever becoming too angular or agitated – the acoustic warmth of their respective instruments creates more of a velvet ripple, penetrating and persistent.

About a third of the tracks here are traditional tunes, mostly from Turkey, but the originals are largely inspired by the same traditions and you would probably only pick their western origin by their names – in fact it’s refreshing to see Kim’s tongue well in cheek with titles such as Speedbump (what surfers call bodyboarders) and Waste Of Time Busking.

Basically this is a very listenable album (if bagpipes don’t bother you that is), the musicianship is excellent, the production quality is crystalline and the sounds are exotic and entrancing.  A sumptuous addition to any world music collection.

– Bradfield Dumpleton 2008 for indie-cds.com website (www.indie-cds.com)

Review: Bent Grooves, Eelco Schilder, FolkWorld Germany

The Australian multi instrumentalist Kim Sanders is obsessed with wind instruments and already for many years he shares his obsession with the rest of the world by recording great CD’s. Bent Grooves is his latest work and on this album he plays seven wind instruments varying from Turkish Gaita, Kaval, Saluang to tenor sax. What I like is that his instruments have their origin from all over the world and in his work Sanders shows their similarities and their differences. On this CD he is backed by seven ‘friends’ who have different backgrounds from Indian tabla, Balkan Clarinet, Greek bouzouki until Turkish lute. Sanders recorded thirteen tracks, many based on traditionals but also own compositions. I think this Bent grooves is his best album. The music is exciting, a good variation between styles and very well played. I love the Turkish song Heyamoli in which he mixes the Gaita with the sax and especially the bass makes it a Oriental jazzy piece of music. In Kong’s dream one of his own compositions, he and his friends take me into a dreamy world and for more than six minutes long I’m sailing away on the beautiful harmonies between the two saxophones, tabla and bass. Definitely one of my favourites on this album. Only a surfer knows this feeling is inspired by the music from the Black sea. An intense piece of music with the fresh sounding Turkish lute. What follows is A journey in Sabâ Makam. A piece in four parts that takes about fifteen minutes. Highly inspired by the Dervish music, this is a hypnotising fifteen minutes and maybe even the strongest composition on this album. With Bent grooves Kim Sanders and his friends show to be masters in Roots-jazz-fusion music.

–  Eelco Schilder, FolkWorld (Germany) ( www.folkworld.eu )

Review: Bent Grooves, John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, July 2008

That asinine term “world music” actually acquires some meaning when applied to the art of Kim Sanders. The Sydney multi-instrumentalist has stewed in musical melting pots from Indonesia to Gambia and is especially steeped in the sounds of Turkey and Eastern Europe. Having absorbed these traditions, he plays within or without them as suits his creative impulses.
Sanders’s long-term collaboration with tabla player Bobby Singh stretches the sonic world of Asia Minor eastward, towards the subcontinent, just as Steve Elphick’s bass and Sandy Evans’s saxophone bring jazzier sensibilities to bear. But Sanders never forces square pegs into round holes and his musical imagination unfolds with a marvellous fluidity, like a river being fed by many tributaries, with the main flow mingling beautiful, often melancholy melodies with evocative rhythms and exotic textures.
His own braying tenor saxophone, assorted wistful flutes and sometimes imperious bagpipes radiate a joy in having such open dialogues with his gifted collaborators; dialogues that have been superbly recorded.

– John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, July 11, 2008

Review: Bent Grooves, Jaslyn Hall, Limelight Magazine, July 2008

What wouldn’t I give to have friends like these: Sandy Evans (soprano and tenor sax), Carlos Villanueva  (charango), Tarlochan Singh (tabla), George Doukas (bouzouki), Llew Kiek (baglama), Blagojce Dimitrievski (clarinet) and Steve Elphick (double bass). Kim Sanders describes his life as a speed bump “you start going somewhere and end up going somewhere completely different”.  It’s also the title of the second trac, a beautiful interplay between two saxophones, tabla and bass.Kim, multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger, plays tenor sax on this tune.Bent Grooves is an instrumental CD, beautifully measured and layered, with music inspired by Kim’s travel and work in Macedonia and Turkey.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

– Jaslyn Hall, ABC Limelight Magazine, June 2008

Review: You Can’t Get There From Here, Eelco Shilder, FolkWorld Germany

Kim Sanders is a musician from Australia who plays several wind instruments. From different kind of gaita’s up to the tenor sax which he all uses on this cd as well. He studied and performed music for a longer period in Turkey, the Balkan and West-Africa and these influences can be heard in his recorded work. On this cd he co-operates with Sabahattin Akdagcik on several lute instruments, Steve Elphick on double bass, Peter Kennard on percussion, Tarlochan Singh on tablas and Epizo Bangoura on djembe and balafon. The cd contains a collection of strong compositions which mostly find their roots in Turkey an a few in the Balkan. The music is sometimes mystic like in Segah taksim (taksim is the Turkih word for improvisation, that is what he does in this tune) or in Kabadayi. But the music can also be full of tension and real virtuous like in the Bulgarian tune Giorgi’s pravo. Kim sanders shows that he knows his way on all the instruments he plays. The compositions and performance are of high quality and the mixture of instruments from different areas give a rich sound to the music. I like the sound of tabla in Blues for the Balkans. A tune from Macedonia which indeed is brought in a blues way and these tabla’s together with the sax make this a beautifully, almost sad piece of music. If you would like to order this cd please visit the webpage (www.kimsandersworldmusic.com), it’s worth the trouble.

–  Eelco Schilder, FolkWorld (Germany) ( www.folkworld.eu )

Review: You Can’t Get There From Here, Carina Prange, Jazz Dimensions Germany

Kim Sanders has built bridges with this album which connect not only the orient with the occident, but also Jazz with the turkish/bulgarian/african traditions. He is remarkably versatile and brilliant on the windinstruments.
All other artists on the album are also masters of their instruments.

The album conveys authenticity and beats comparable competition hands down. The union of bagpipes and percussion, Ney, Mey and Oud (?) is both daring and successful and creates music as a universal language without  limits to communication or impossibilities.  This a dream of an album full of emotion and skill.

– Carina Prange, Jazz Dimensions, Germany ( www.jazzdimensions.de )

(Or the computer-translated version:
The album of Kim of Sanders living in Australia strikes a bridge between Orient and Okzident, between jazz and Turkish-Bulgarian-African tradition. Sanders remarkably on is the versatility, with which it really acquires itself the play of its most difficult folkloristichen wind instruments into various musical worlds not to only in-dip, but for it on masterful level…)