Classically trained in his native Tbilisi, Giorgi Mikadze didn’t set out to explore the music of the country he’d just left when he arrived at Berklee. It was in part the influence of peers and mentors that he saw investigating their own cultures and heritages in innovative ways that led him to cast his thoughts homeward.
Since rediscovering his roots, and the vibrant musical heritage that underlies it, Mikadze has become downright evangelical about his homeland. An exuberant pride shines through as he boasts that Georgia is heralded as the birthplace of wine, with a viticultural tradition dating back at least 8,000 years.
The Georgian folk song “Chakrulo” was one of only 29 compositions from the history of music around the globe that was included on the famed Voyager Golden Record, sent into space to represent the planet’s culture to any extraterrestrial intelligence that might happen upon it.
Through the use of microtonal music, Mikadze finds a way to replicate the fluidity and power of the voice in instrumental music, while allowing him to incorporate a wealth of other influences, from rock to fusion to music from other regions of the planet whose traditions echo or intersect with Georgia’s. In Mikadze’s inventive vision, the music leaps effortlessly but intriguingly between time periods, styles and cultures in a constantly surprising hybrid.
Combining a sense of national pride, musical invention and exploratory spirit, Mikadze has created a striking new hybrid of traditional Georgian folk music and progressive microtonal jazz on his breathtaking debut album, Georgian Microjamz.
Georgian Microjamz discovers unexpected common ground between the ancient traditions of Mikadze’s native Georgia, where the Orthodox Christian church featured only vocal music in its services, and the very modern microtonal innovations of guitar great David “Fuze” Fiuczynski, with whom the keyboardist studied while at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
Fiuczynski joins Mikadze to breathe life into this alien-sounding fusion, along with Greek-born bassist Panagiotis Andreou (Now vs. Now, Mulatu Astatke) and drummer Sean Wright (Musiq Soulchild, Taeyang). On three tracks the quartet is supplemented by the stunning vocals of Georgian choir Ensemble Basiani, while singer and ethnomusicologist Nana Valishvili adds a heart-wrenching vocal performance to “Moaning,” a powerful ode to the victims of the 2008 military conflict between Russia and Georgia.