Israel-born/Boston-based pianist/composer Gilad Barkan's efforts on his debut Modulation
(New Step, 2003), and his guitarist, Izzi Rosen's Dark Beauty
(New Step, 2003) were among the best of that year.
Barkan's Live Sessions
, a two-disc, live-in-studio recording by Boston's WGBH, differs by degree. While Barkan wrote intriguing originals on earlier releases, he was very clearly linked to players including Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett. He left room for two jazz standards on Modulation
Evans' "Waltz for Debby" and Hancock's "Dolphin Dance." In addition to his dazzling technique, Barkan has appeared with Rosen as well as bassist Dan Greenspan and much in-demand Bostonian drummer, Harvey Wirht, who has been holding down the drum chair of the highly reputed Either/Orchestra.
Disc One of Live Sessions features Barkan, Greenspan and Wirht. It's obvious that Barkan loses nothing in the transition to piano trio, and the synergy of the three players shows a great deal of sparks flying creatively. There are a few repeats from Modulation, including the title tune and "Amaravati Devi Is Getting Married."
Disc Two is notable for the presence of Israeli flutist Amir Milstein, who joins a slightly different trio featuring veteran bassist John Lockwood alongside Wirht. The presence of the flute unquestionably tones down this project but you can hear the contrast as Barkan, Wirht and Lockwood blow it all out on their solos. All songs on disc two are written by Barkan, only "Maya's Blues" was written by Milstein.
In sum, Live Sessions offers a fine opportunity to hear the Gilad Barkan group play, not only fresh and exciting music, but to hear the pianist in a supportive role of a flutist on one of the sessions. Regardless of whether the inclusion of the latter was a suggestion of WGBH or the pianist's idea, it provides listeners with added awareness of Barkan's capability.
Personnel: Gilad Barkan: piano; Dan Greenspan: bass (CD1); ; John Lockwood: bass (CD2); Harvey Wirht: drums; Amir Milstein: flute (CD2).