Follia! is the third album by a Belgian experimental jazz ensemble Follia, and it is a true masterwork. Achieving a perfect balance of musical traditions from the East and West, ancient to future, they set the stage not only for a new transculturalism in jazz, but also created a lasting template for the fusion of musics from world traditions that would flower over a decade later.
The seven participants in Follia, singer and guitarist Indra Boone, drummer Jonathan Callens, bassist Jouni Isoherranen, violnist Jeroen Goegebeur, singer and guitarist Gabor Voros, flutist Sammy Lee Daese, and saxophonist and accordionist Johan F. Decancq, operated on the premise that melodic ideas and expansive harmonies all contributed to a music that didn’t bridge cultures, but erased them and eradicated them. This is a place where the astute dynamics of classical music meet the freedom of experimental jazz in an inquiry of world rhythms and harmonics. Standout tracks include “(H)eden,” with its celebration of folk music and rhythmic invention; the up-tempo “Dabba Dabba,” the intensely improvisatory “Nunca Olvidare“; and the lilting “Marieke.” This is fusion music, to be sure, but it’s the kind of fusion musicians have been trying unsuccessfully to emulate for decades. Follia! is one of the most poetic and groundbreaking records to be released in the 2010’s. That is for sure.