by Jeff Becker
Marius Preda is a multi-instrumentalist and composer that has released a prodigious album called, Mission Cimbalom. Preda is featured playing multiple instruments on the album, but the most unique and the one he specializes on the most is the cimbalom. Preda is a magnificent player and his gift for developing intricate lines that are both technically brilliant and highly melodic is amazing. The cimbalom is a hammered dulcimer that is native to the nations and cultures of Central-Eastern Europe. The album has thirteen tracks that are a combination of Preda’s originals and arrangements of classic tunes from the jazz library.
Preda’s technical skills are certainly on display on Oscar Peterson’s “Place St. Henri.” It’s hard to imagine a hammered dulcimer having the same power and musical energy as Peterson’s piano, but with Preda, this is exactly what happens on this tune. Also, French pianist, Michel Petrucciani’s “Buongiorno Petrucciani” is another example of Preda’s musical power, but this time he is playing piano. On both the cimbalom and piano, Preda’s sense of time and musical phrasing is outstanding.
If Preda’s musical display on the cimbalom or piano have not convinced you of his magnificent musical prowess, Preda’s unbelievable chops on his other instruments will. Preda plays accordion on “Place St. Henri,” vibraphone on “Le Grand Blond avec une Chasseur Noire,” violin on “Nature Boy,” and pan pipes on “Le Grand Blond.” The before mentioned is just a partial list, Preda is a force of musical nature!
On some tracks, Preda even plays multiple instruments during the course of one track. On “Place St. Henri,” Preda plays the cimbalom with such focus and facility that it is simply breath taking, he does the same on violin, piano and accordion. Preda’s driving sense of time is what makes his playing such a joy to listen to and allows his technicality to communicate musical statements with power and clarity.
It is Preda’s goal to bring the cimbalom front and center in the jazz world, with Mission Cimbalom, that quest is certainly on a destined trajectory.