Drori Mondlak: Point In Time (2008)
Mondlak took great care in choosing instruments that have distinct tones, and exude equally bright and muted colors. As drummer, Mondlak becomes the constant that bonds the diversity of horns, electric guitar and string bass. The tunes are also written by the band members, with the exception of "Simone" by Frank Foster, which happens to be the most dramatic of all.
The impact of the entire recording emanates from its silky storytelling. The bass, alto and guitar facilely change places in exposing the friendly characters of these musical fictions. Even though each instrument distinguishes itself, no two are ever in a contest. There are no abstractions; the music has well-formed direction. The tempos are often gentle ("It Once Was A Waltz," "Without A View"), but some swing and groove without altering the overriding textures and intimacy ("No Name Blues," "I've Paid Some Blues"). This recording is simply one faultless lyrical line, evolving through intercepted or supplemented lines offered by each instrumental source ("Simone," "Sweet Tooth").
The portraits of each instrument are clearly defined. From the beginning ("Sweet Tooth"), Karolina Strassmayer unveils how she can relate melody on the alto in a restrained though intensely genuine manner ("It Once Was A Waltz," "Simone") and then move into lyrical territory on the flute with equal aplomb ("Brenna's Morning"). Bassist Steve LaSpina can control a substantively throaty pizzicato to set the mood and pace ("Simone," "No Name Blues"), as well as create a softness achievable in no way other than by bowing ("Brenna's Morning"). Electric guitarist Cary DeNigris unleashes precise fingering with thoroughly titillating underpinnings ("I've Paid Some Blues") or an attention to sprightly dynamic ("No Name Blues"), yet can also reveal totally forgiving solace as he plucks one single note after the other ("No Name Blues").
Mondlak lends endless support to everyone, with mostly light stick to snare to cymbal flair. On his own ("Sweet Tooth"), Mondlak opens up largely to the snare; he structures snare, tom, and cymbal combinations which, although non-explosive, proclaim his sensitivity to his drum set. He can form a rhythmic groove that is sharp and in keeping with the sonic surface of the moment that might include a percussive accent with the chimes ("The Prance," "Simone")...to emphasize a point in time.
The words to describe this quartet are tuneful collaboration. Within the vast differences among the instruments, the range of subtlety is bountiful, balanced and beautiful.
Track Listing: Sweet Tooth; Simone; Brenna's Morning; No Name Blues; It Once Was A Waltz; Without A View; I've Paid Some Blues; The Prance.
Personnel: Drori Mondlak: drums; Karolina Strassmayer: alto saxophone, flute; Cary DeNigris: guitar; Steve LaSpina: bass.
Record Label: Lilypad Music
Style: Modern Jazz