Saskandinot (Toasting) – Latvian ballads and drinking songs

“Imagine listening to one song after another, obsessed with death, gloom, mysery and unrequited love – and then finding yourself so uplifted, so filled with the spirit of the muse as to take your breath away, seduced by minor-key song that turns deep pessimism into beauty and life-affirmation…

Laila Salins’ Saskandinot crosses all the old barriers to open a door to the riches of a culture where deep, ancient and ancestral strains meet the contemporary worlds of folk and popular music, all in a mix that is as true to its roots as it is original, moving and articulate for our latter day.”

Eric Salzman (composer, producer, and author of 20th Century Music: an Introduction)

with: Laila Salins, vocals; Bill Schimmel, accordion; Jim Matus, laoutar; Perry Robinson, clarinet; Lalita Salins, flute and back-up vocals; Jason Schwartz, acoustic bass; Joe O’Brien, electric bass; Jill O’Brien, back-up vocals; Brian Caudle, Marty Elster, John de Kadt and Michel Moushabeck, percussion

Laila’s videos on youtube:

All About Jazz



March 12, 2013

On Elevator Into The Sky, Latvian-American singer/composer Laila Salins adapts poems by Sexton for her lyric book, backing them with a far-reaching band. This project is as ambitious as easily imagined. Sexton’s confessional free verses are not easily tamed musically. Salins approaches Sexton’s craggy images by presenting them juxtaposed against pianist Jamie Reynolds’ often anxious figures that swell and recede with the needs of the lyrics. Marty Ehrlich’s smart reeds bolster Setxon’s delicate-yet-durable poetic images while providing the slight Eastern European ethnic touch.

The reward in listening to Elevator Into The Sky resides in appreciating Salins’ attempt to adapt difficult material to music. The result of Salins’ efforts is often free form singing laid across equally liberated accompaniment. Her voice is hipster fresh with a digital contemporary gleam that gently guides her training into those uncharted creative territories artists are often unprepared for, regardless of their training. “Riding The Elevator Into The Sky” and “Jesus Walking” offer a moody, hinged tone poem both amorphous and grounded. The latter proves to be a pastoral ballad that dramatically builds itself into a grand concert piece for Salins.

This is the music that lays the way for future experimentation and creation.