Since receiving a scholarship to study at the New England Conservatory of Music, Israeli born pianist Omer Klein has amassed an impressive resume in the U.S. After moving to New York in 2006, the twenty-five year old musician began working with an impressive list of artists, including Joel Frahm, Clarence Penn, Ben Street and Donny McCaslin.
Introducing Omer Klein marks Klein's recording debut as a leader, and features bassist Omer Avital, drummer Ziv Ravitz and percussionist Itamar Doari. The all original set melds the sounds of the young composer's Israeli heritage with the acoustic traditions of American jazz. The resulting performances are vibrant and fresh-sounding.
The opening track, "Abutbul," has a playful, melodic bounce, with a Chick Corea vibe. The emphasis here, as it is throughout most of the disc, is on melody. Klein develops simple themes with sparse harmonic support, as on "Malchut," where the pianist's vocalizing emphasizes the accessible nature of the piece. Accessibility, however, need not be synonymous with lightness or simplicity. On the contrary, Klein manages to sustain rich sonorities in his multi-cultural approach, blending folk-like lyrical qualities with multifaceted rhythms.
The influence of classical piano is evident on the Chopinesque "Melody For Alon," as well as the disc's two solo piano pieces, "Unerasable" and "Tiul Be 'Israel." The latter builds with a quiet intensity, demonstrating a level of restraint rarely heard in younger artists.
Considering the focused conceptual vision heard throughout this impressive debut, there is little doubt that Klein will emerge as a unique and recognizable voice in the coming years.
Personnel: Omer Klein: piano, vocals (#2); Omer Avital: bass, oud (#7); Ziv Ravitz: drums; Itamar Doari: percussion.