Assaf Kehati: Flowers And Other Stories (2011)
Dynamic tension and release is an under-explored avenue in jazz. While composers and performers of this music seem to come out of institutes of higher learning with advanced harmonic knowledge, allowing them to create stunningly complex chords that resolve in an amiable fashion, these very musicians are often incapable of using the same techniques when dealing with volume concerns. Dynamics, like melody and harmony, play a key part in shaping any musical performance, and guitarist Assaf Kehati is keenly aware of this fact.
In an effort to build and breakdown the emotional intensity in his musicdynamically and in all other mannersKehati is always at the center of the architectural process. His diaphanous single note lines often serve as kindling, which allows the other musicians to build the fire around his guitar work. Once the fire burns down a bit, the embers always remain, giving Kehati and his group the option of stoking the flames again or letting things peacefully die out. These techniques work time and time again, as he creates works that move from loose suspended states of animation to more rhythmically solid ground ("Don't Attack"), and music that can revolve around consistent and mesmerizing lines that evolve in a variety of manners ("The Most Beautiful Flower").
Kehati's Israeli roots show up early on the album, as saxophonist Alon Farber delivers the mournful melody of "Calling Me Home," but the guitarist is careful not to paint himself into a corner, where he would be lumped in as just another musician playing Middle Eastern-coated jazz. Kehati proves that he's no one-trick pony, by showing constant comfort in different settings. He shows equal skill while delivering clipped, playful melodic phrases and tossing off short snippets of sound ("Mr. Mario"), and painting gossamer guitar lines over his sensitive support team ("Invisible Green"). While most of the music is full of peaks and valleys in the overall aural landscape, Kehati can also be content to just let sheer beauty win out, as it rides along in a stunning and straightforward manner without falling prey to excessive emotional ebb and flow ("The Snow And The Sun").
On this recording, his sophomore outing, Assaf Kehati paints a finely textured self-portrait of a master musical sculptor of sound and mood that's, no doubt, on the brink of bigger things.
Track Listing: Calling Me Home; Mr. Mario; Tali; The Most Beautiful Flower; The Snow And The Sun; Don't Attack; Invisible Green.
Personnel: Assaf Kehati: guitar; Alon Farber: saxophone; Daniel Sapir: bass; Udi Shlomo: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz