A big band album centered around American trumpeter Benny Bailey is understandable; Bailey was one of the great stylists on the instrument. But why music with the Balkans as theme? Benny had connections to the area through tours and work with the many top-flight jazz musicians with Balkan roots. There is also a connection between jazz and the polyrhythmic music of the Balkans: both are grounded in the rich musical traditions of Africa, Europe and Asia, and in their own particular ways have swing and a sense of the blues as central features. There was also Benny’s musical connection with Yugoslavian Bobby Gutesha, the album’s arranger and producer. Bobby had an eventful career in Germany composing and arranging for film and the top big bands. His skills ran the gamut from swing pieces for Benny Goodman to modernist music arrangements for Miles Davis. American tenor sax giant Don Menza is on board to share the solo work. Four pieces feature Bailey with the big band’s rhythm section: I Remember Sarajeo with Benny on emotive plunger-muted flugelhorn, Bailey’s relaxed jazz waltz Blue Adriatic, and the medium-tempo Adriatic Sunset and Sailing to the Islands. The other eight tightly arranged big band compositions include the purely orchestral 6 + 3 In Macedonia, a swinging Hassan Effendi, the emotive Macedonian Ballad, the up-tempo South Balkan Express with Menza’s rapid-fire sax joining Bailey, the comfy swing of Belgrade Belles with muscular tenor, muted trumpet and hints of Basie, The Bridge of Mostar with muted trumpet, The Sophisticated Gypsy featuring Menza’s flashy solo, and the bluesy Zamira with soulful solos from Bailey and Menza. A classy album with a unique slant and Bailey at his inimitable best.