Jerusalem-based composer and pianist Yitzhak Yedid is a true advocate of the Third Stream, the almost extinct school of music that claims to synthesize jazz sensibility and modern methods of improvisation with new and contemporary techniques of composition. The Israeli musician explains his adherence to this school in the minute liner notes of Passions and Prayers, his second release for the German Between the Lines label: "This approach is based on the belief that the contemporary performer has a mastery of different musical languages. This produces a musical richness meant to create a homogenous entity."
This composition reflects Yedid's visions of his beloved home town, its mysteries and beauties contrasting with the coldness of Jerusalem's harsh and quite often violent reality, and Yedid transforms these visions into modern-day prayers that represent his sense of compassion, pity, and acceptance as a citizen of Jerusalem. Yedid divides the five-part composition into images and poetic comments that convey a series of dramatic motifs and atmospheres, some of them repeating themselves, in order to achieve a sense of a cohesive story. Throughout this intricate and tight composition Yedid leaves short passages for improvisation for the sextet members, but unfortunately most of them lack substantial experience as improvisers.
Some of the fascinating segments are the ones that Yedid leaves his trusty musical partner, bassist Ora Boasson-Horev, to improvise on, as well as his own beautiful ornamentations on some of the most restrained passages. Boasson-Horev, accompanied by horn player Alon Reuven, embarks into freer realms of improvisation on the end of Part 2. Her playing on the scenes that represent chaos and anarchy in Part 3, and Yedid's serene solo on the segment "When Silence Meets Silence" (Part 4) are the most remarkable.
But there are times that you wish that Yedid would have employed stronger improvisers, such as renowned clarinetist Francois Houle, who played on Yedid's debut for the same label (The Myth Of The Cave, 2003), or players who would try to rebel against Yedid's tight arrangements and his acceptance of the intolerable reality of Jerusalem. But still, Passions and Prayers is an impressive statement that succeeds in its attempt to capture a melancholic image of a city in conflict. It's quite cerebral, and certainly not for the faint of heart.
Personnel: Alon Reuven: French horn; Orit Orbach: clarinet & bass clarinret; Yaron Ouzana: trombone;
Galia Hal: viola; Ora Boasson Horev: double bass; Yitzhak Yedid: piano.