Ehud Asherie: Modern Life (2010)
Modern life, if this fine recording from Israeli-born, New York-based pianist Ehud Asherie is anything to go by, happened sometime between the late-1940s and the late-'50s. From the beautifully-designed packagingwith the greens and golds of the graphics matched by those of Asherie's suit, shirt and tieto the exquisite renditions of classic tunes and a couple of Asherie originals, Modern Life is an album that oozes nostalgia and a love for a style of jazz that remains fresh and engaging today.
Asherie's piano style reflects the inspiration of players such as Erroll Garner. Light and lyrical, it's an approach that creates delightful solos on Jerome Kern's "I've Told Every Little Star" and Asherie's own "Blues for George," as well as understated and note-perfect accompaniments throughout. Both talents are shown to great effect on George Gershwin's "He Loves and She Loves," with Asherie's feather-light accompaniment to Harry Allen's saxophone moving effortlessly into his own sparkling solo. This tune also highlights the rhythm section of bassist Joel Forbes and drummer Chuck Riggs, with both players showing a deft economy that ensures an ideal foundation for the lead instruments.
The sound of Allen's tenor sax goes straight back to Ben Webster via Zoot Sims, making this recording very special indeed. His tone is warm and rich, whatever the tempo. On Hank Jones' "Vignette" Allen's tenor positively skips across the melody, while on Tadd Dameron's "Casbah" he's altogether more sultry and seductive, as he evokes a late night atmosphere of mystery and romance.
Asherie and Allen close out the album with a duet version of Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing." They respond to the absence of Riggs and Forbesnot by attempting to fill in the spaces but by leaving them be. The result is a languid and relaxed performance of great beauty. Indeed, great beauty is a characteristic to be found throughout Modern Life.
Track Listing: I've Told Every Little Star; Blues for George; The Trolley Song; He Loves and She Loves; Vignette; One for V; No Moon at All; Casbah; Soon; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.
Personnel: Ehud Asherie: piano; Harry Allen: saxophone; Joel Forbes: bass; Chuck Riggs: drums.