Eli Degibri is a young tenor saxophonist from Israel, here with his first recording, and an impressive debut it is. Degibri exhibits a robust, warm tone and an unpredictable sense of phrasing. His playing runs from graceful bebop dancing worthy of Sonny Stitt to upper register cries that resonate like a desert wind.
Degibri is also a very promising composer. His tunes include changing tempos and time signatures, as well as a mix of jazz, funk, and ethnic rhythms. "Last Summer" unspools a memorable melodic line over challenging chord changes and tempo changes. The title tune features a stately melody over a faster kicking dance rhythm that sounds like a hora. Degibri's compositions offer a rare combination of melodic hooks combined with harmonic and rhythmic materials that challenge the improviser.
While Degibri proves he is indeed a rising tenor saxophone star, he is well supported by his bandmates, particularly Kurt Rosenwinkel. The guitarist plays with such intensity and imagination that he nearly steals the album from the leader. Goldberg, Street, and Ballard are excellent as well, with Goldberg playing consistently fine solos. The bassist and drummer play as one, and they lay down an exhilarating carpet of swing.
Of course, Degibri is still growing as an artist. At times he sounds a bit hesitant, as if he's not quite sure what to play next. But he's going to keep growing, and he already has a lot to say. Once again, Fresh Sound New Talent has recorded a young musician who deserves to be heard.
Track Listing: In The Beginning, Painless, Shoohoo, Last Summer, Dance Attempts, Cherokee, Song For Roni, All The Things You Are, With You, With You - Epologue, Fin.
Personnel: Eli Degibri, tenor saxophone; Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitar; Aaron Goldberg, piano; Ben Street, bass; Jeff Ballard, drums.