JEZ HELLARD and THE DJUKELLA ORCHESTRA – Blood & Honey

Djukella is a Balkan word meaning ‘mongrel’ and is usually applied as an insult. It is, however, an appropriate name for a multi-racial band with a musical philosophy that recognises no boundaries. Balkan, incidentally comes from two words meaning ‘blood’ and ‘honey’ so you can see where they are coming from.

The band’s debut album was recorded in eastern Europe, Canada and the UK and gives the impression of being done on a limited budget. That’s not a criticism, more a statement of admiration. Jez plays guitar and harmonica and shows off the latter with an as-live version of Rory Mcleod’s ‘Miner’s Picket Dance’. That track starts a trend with Leon Rosselson’s ‘Mercenaries’ then followed by ‘Remember The Mountain Bed’ with words by Woody Guthrie and music by Wilco. Fiddler Cam Neufeld, one of two Canadians in the band, wrote ‘Atlas Tango’ which gives Jez another harmonica workout and showcases Nye Parsons’ double bass.

What I particularly like about this album is that Jez appears to have designed it simply by picking material he likes and putting it together in a satisfying order which is a damn good approach in my view and whether it’s a song from Boo Hewerdine or a tune from Amy Cann, the Djukella Orchestra handles the material with an easy fluidity. Shame there are only ten tracks. Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.jezhellard.com


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