Issi Rozen: Dark Beauty (2003)
Issi Rozen shows a compact sensibility when he bridges the music of his native Israel and jazz. The blend is seamless – and as the music shows, it can be as warm and cozy as it is jumpy and effervescent. As a guitarist, Rozen has enough texture and color in his hands to paint an interesting sketch. In this he is well served by the rest of the band, in particular Thomson Kneeland, who brings in a stirring sensibility to his bass playing.
All the compositions are by Rozen save Charlie Parker's “Segment” and “Sheharhoret,” a traditional tune. The latter is a pared-down ballad that flows on the ruminations of Rozen and Gilad Barkan. They drive the pulse up along the way and introduce a well-knit dimension, but the best moments come when Kneeland explores a rich vein of articulate phrases with his bowing. Parker and bop are enough inspiration for Kneeland to push and prod Rozen, whose changes are quick and fluid. Wirht eases in with a fine feel for the dynamics (he can be a busy drummer, witness the opening track). And then there is Barkan, who compels some stimulating exploration. One good bop deserves another and it comes in “Sixteen,” where the principals pour out the molten heat enticingly.
The beat is pulled in for “Dreamland,” a pastel shaded ballad, while the spirit of Rozen’s homeland is etched in the portrait of “Geshem," a traipsing, happy tune leavened by a shower of loquacious notes from Rozen’s guitar, Barkan’s striking buoyancy, and a rhythm section that embraces every emotion. There is much to appreciate and savor here.
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Track Listing: Sheharhoret; Ramat Gan; Dreamland; Segment; Spring; Maya
Personnel: Issi Rozen