Tel Aviv Jazz Festival 2008
But when the saxophone choir was challenged with compositions that demanded personal articulation of Pope's motives, as on "Coltrane's Time," the music proved more demanding. Most of the sax players and the rhythm section simply did meet that call, and only tenor sax players Erez Barnoy, with an assured, tough sound and well-built solos and, to a lesser extent, Shauli Einav and alto saxophonist Hagai Amir, with a beautiful swinging-singing tone, matched Pope's brief solos. It was clear at such moments that Pope can immediately construct a nuanced solo with his own impressive and rich searching sound, while most of the Israeli cast of the sax players and the rhythm section were still lacking an original sound or incapable of realizing the well-articulated ideas that would have complemented Pope's motives.
There was no shortage of originality later that evening when the Mario Pavone Trio performed a program titled "Remembering Thomas," as it was scheduled ten years after the untimely death of Thomas Chapin, and after one of Pavone's recordings (Knitting Factory, 1999). The trio- drummer Michael Sarin, who like Pavone, was part of the Chapin Trio, and alto and soprano saxophonist Michael Blake, performed two favorite compositions of Chapin, "Bypass" and "Aeolus," but wisely did not try to recreate the unique sound of Chapin or even the telepathic infectious interplay of Chapin with Pavone and Chapin, opting for a more inquisitive attitude that attempted to offer new perspectives on these highly melodic compositions by searching for their inner logic within the bigger big-band sound that Chapin managed to bring to his compositions.
Pavone's original compositions, and especially a new one that is dedicated to the memory of the late Andrew Hill, do not translate easily and sound cerebral at the beginning, but Pavone knows how to balance the intellectual tension with a constant groove, while demonstrating his trademark huge sound on the bass and his resourceful articulation. Blake is a saxophonist who never opts for the obvious sax attack and always surprises with new angles that enrich the musical interaction of the trio. Sarin, a gifted and versatile drummer, pushed the other players with a well-nuanced beat but also played within the rhythm itself, while changing and expanding the interplay with more meanings and references. The constant shifts of all three players among free and abstract passages and more structured motives, and their careful support of each other, earned the justified appreciation of the audience.
Local sax hero Albert Beger celebrated in the festival the release of his new disc Big Mother in front of an appreciative audience. His new quartet- -featuring Aviran Ben Naim on piano, Gabriel Meir on bass and Yoav Zohar on drumsexploded with tight and powerful versions of "The One" and "Tales of Beelzebub" from the new recording, which highlighted the tight cohesion of the quartet as well as its big and rich sound. The quartet was attuned to Beger's moves and offered him a solid platform for his inspired soloson the new compositions or when he revisited older original tunes such as "State of the Sun," which emphasized his gentler side. Ben Naim's playing sounded as if he were orchestrating Beger's themes for even a larger ensemble, and the rhythm section of Meir and Zohar supplied a kicking pulse throughout the performance.
It was a perfect conclusion to a successful festival.
Digi Dekel of Kahil El'Zabar, Corey Wilkes and Albert Beger.
Kabilio of Oedon Pope and Mario Pavone Trio.