Nowadays the border between jazz and modern classical music is becoming narrower and actually vanishing. The Spheres Duo offers good proof, exploring a multicoloured sound and realizing extraordinary results from the unique linkage of piano, vibraphone and percussion. Arnon Zimra and Zvi Joffe met first at the Tel Aviv Music Academy in 1991, when they performed a composition by Yehezkel Braun for piano and percussion. They preferred to compose their own music and make their own arrangements, which fit them perfectly well. In Concert
allows us to witness the justness of their decision.
The album opens with "Registers for Piano, Vibraphone & Orchestra," a piece that's penetrated by moderate disturbance. The atmosphere is further enforced by the repetition of the piano and the implacable phrases of the vibraphone, but the addition of strings realizes the composition's final effect. These small and organic orchestral incursions raise the whole piece to great heights.
Next comes "Six Pieces for Viola and Marimba," titled symbolically and dedicated by Zvi Joffe to his brother, who perished in the Holocaust at the age of two. Instead of violin and vibraphone, with their sharp and bright sound, the marimba and viola here have a softer, dimmer sound and hence are more suitable for the mood. Both Zimra and Joffe admit this piece is complicated and acknowledge the virtuosity of Martin Sher (viola) and Jacob Hodges (marimba).
"Anima," which is based on overtones, finds Zvi Joffe playing inside the piano, using percussion in order to realize the enormous potential of this musical union. Since the Spheres Duo was established, Joffe and Zimra have met three times a week for rehearsals in order to play their own compositions/arrangements and improvise, collaborating in order to overcome the term of musical "colleagues." Once they decided to work with original music, Zimra and Joffe established the Tel Aviv Art Ensemble, a collection of talented musicians such as Harold Rubin, Maya Dunietz, and others, who play modern music.
Although the Ensemble is a huge project, the Spheres Duo hasn't been swallowed by it, and both remain independent collectives. This brings us to "Spheres No. 2 for Ensemble," which reflects the cooperation between both groups. Two contrabasses, one in a solo role and the other in support, are joined by piano, vibraphone, alto saxophone and violin. The music emphasizes low tones and realizes a different aspect of the possibilities of this team.
The closing "Spheres of Music," which consists of three parts brilliantly combined into one, overwhelms with its determination and displays the duo's huge potential for virtuosity and imagination. Beginning with Afro-Cuban rhythms, the piece reaches a short percussion coda. Both Arnon Zimra and Zvi Joffe love music and improvisation and definitely enjoy the process of creation. This album will leave many music admirers with thoughts to consider, and listeners will return to it frequently to enjoy the music.
Personnel: Arnon Zimra: piano; Zvi Joffe: vibraphone, percussion.