It's amazing how many musicians from Israel have taken up residence in the United States. Among the first to be noticed was bassist Avishai Cohen who first came to critical notice when he joined pianist Chick Corea's group in 1996.
The eighth Anzic album is "Happy Song" and features a fascinating Tentet playing quite a repertoire mostly arranged by Oded Lev-Ari (he's also the co-producer with Ms. Cohen). The ensemble for this recording includes Rubin Kodheli (cello), Nadje Noordhuis (trumpet, flugelhorn), Nick Finzer (trombone), Owen Broder (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet), James Shipp (vibraphone, percussion), Vitor Gonçalves (piano, accordion), Sheryl Bailey (guitar), Tal Mashiach (bass), and Anthony Pinciotti (drums).
The material ranges from klezmer (the album's centerpiece is the 12:26 "Anat's Doina", a medley of three traditional melodies) to Brazil (a sweet arrangement of Egberto Gismonti's "Loro") to several impressive standards (Owen Murphy's snappy "Oh Baby" from 1924, made famous by Bix Beiderbecke and Gordon Jenkins's "Goodbye" composed in 1935 and a tune that became Benny Goodman's sign-off tune). The program opens with two originals from Ms. Cohen, the funky title track followed by the handsome ballad "Valsa Para Alice", a piece she recorded with Trio Brasileiro on their 2016 collaboration "Algeria Da Casa." Lev-Ari's original contribution is "Trills and Thrills", a seven-minute sonic adventure that opens in rubato until Ms. Cohen plays the lovely melody and the piece opens up with contributions from all building to a powerful, blues-drenched finish. The album's final track is "Kenedougou Foly", a high-spirited romp composed by Malian balafon artist Néba Solo (the 2006 album that features this song is well worth examining) - arranged by Ms. Cohen, each member of the Tentet adds his or her personal touch and the joyous piece is worth playing at very high volume. Special kudos to Messrs. Shipp and Pinciotti for their impressive work driving the band. It should remind some close listeners of the work of Pierre Dørge's Jungle Orchestra.
This album does live up to its name. There are solemn moments but the album opens and closes on such "highs" that one walks...no, dances away from the speakers. From the delightful Milton Glaser cover painting to Ms. Cohen's highly expressive clarinet playing to the intelligent and inventive arrangements and the "knockout" ensemble, Anat Cohen's Tentet's "Happy Song" is a treat to hear over and over.
For more information, go to www.anatcohen.com.
Here's the title track:
The album opens with a bluesy guitar intro that leads into "Patience", a song that has a jump and an irrepressible forward motion that gets interrupted every now and then with melodic interludes. Sound engineer Luis Bacque does an amazing job of capturing the band's sound, you can clearly hear the quartet's interactions as well as the intimate relationship of the drums and bass. Bareket's sound and attack remind this listener of the playing of Eric Revis; they are both so melodic yet can be percussive when need be.
Percussionist Keita Ogawa and accordionist Vitor Gonçalves join the group for "La Musica Y La Palabra", a lovely tango composed by pianist and vocalist Carlos Aguirre. The leader and accordionist have several lovely moments when they play the same phrases. It's a haunting melody and Bareket deserves much praise for filling the piece with long solos but for embracing the melody with short solos that rise organically out of the thematic material.
"OB1" is a memorable debut that stands out as much for the excellent musicianship as for its thoughtful melodic content. One hopes Or Bareket continues his quest for what he has created here bodes well for his future as both a musician and composer.
For more information, go to www.orbareket.com.
|photo by Tomasz Handzlik|
Vocalist Gracie Terzian joins the trip for a funky, danceable, version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" - the touch of hip hop in the rhythm section and the "chill" vocal gives the music less of a wistful feel and feels more positive. The other non-original is Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love" which turns out to be a vehicle for Milo's wonderfully melodic bass. Sivan takes several choruses but does not stray far from the melody until his powerful solo. Urged on by conversational drums of Stranahan, the guitarist does step out and continues to ride the percussive wave until the piece fades out. Interesting to note - several cuts earlier, Sivan's hard-edged "Sun Song" sounds like variations on the Dylan song.
Rotem Sivan channeled his heartbreak and bewilderment into his music and, thanks to his trust and love for his bandmates, came up with his "Antidote." Instead of burying himself in long self-indulgent solos, these 11 tracks come in at 38 minutes yet one does not feel short-changed. Give it a listen at rotemsivan.bandcamp.com/album/antidote-full-album.
To learn more about the guitarist, go to www.rotemsivan.com.
Here's one of the tracks: