Issi Rozen: Dark Beauty (2003)
After three recordings on Brownstone, guitarist Issi Rozen has released this album on his own label, and it is a lengthy and worthwhile introduction. Most of the 71 minutes are comprised of Rozen's own compositions with a lesser-known Charlie Parker tune, "Segment," and a traditional Israeli song, "Sheharhoret" (the translation of the album's title), are included. Rozen and pianist Gilad Barkan are both native Israelis transplanted to the Boston area per the Berklee School of Music, where they hooked up about ten years ago. Drummer Harvey Wirht is the percussionist for the veteran Either/Orchestra also in the Bay State area.
I have seen a lot of references to Pat Metheny and Jim Hall as Rozen's guitar influences and, in fact, having been in receipt of this subliminal observation, much of his playing has elements of both guitarists. What separates Rozen from the pack is his unhurried pace and articulation of clear, bell-like notes. Also, Rozen's compositions have a distinct Middle Eastern flavor, which is only natural, having been exposed to both Arabic and Israeli musical influences.
Gilad Barkan's recent Modulation album, also including Wirht on drums, was a revelatory piano trio outing with superior Barkan tunes. Here, Barkan adopts more of a sideman role and fills it perfectly, although his solos and support do prove invaluable to the cohesiveness of the Rozen group.
Track Listing: Sheharhoret, Ramat Gan, Dreamland, Segment, Spring, Maya's Blues, Spirits, Sixteen, Inspiration, Geshem
Personnel: Issi Rozen, guitar; Gilad Barkan, piano; Thomson Kneeland, bass; Harvey Wirht, drums.