Shauli Einav: Opus One (2010)
On Opus One, he's also chosen an accomplished band to explore a clutch of his own largely up-tempo compositions. Drummer Johnathan Blake turns in a remarkable performance. Picking up on every nuance of Einav's compositions, his combustible, hyperactive playing would seem overbearing if it wasn't so joyous. Pianist Shai Maestro lives up to his name. While his elegant piano playing is firmly in the classic modern jazz lineage of Chick Corea and McCoy Tyner, he surprises with a stealthy Minomoog solo on "Jerusalem Theme," and a funky, ringing Wurlitzer on "Hayu Leilot." Trombonist Andy Hunter is an excellent frontline partner. Like Einav, he's a lyrical player who doesn't feel the need to wield his acrobatic chops on every solo. He also provides a splash of bluesy griton "Shavuot," for exampleand provides a bit of contrast to Einav's smoothly polished surfaces. Bassist Joseph Lepore works well with drummer Blake, imparting considerable forward motion to Opus One's many up-tempo and odd- metered passages.
As remarkable as the playing is, it's Einav's compositions that carry the day on Opus One. Never neglecting the core values of what makes jazz such an appealing musical proposition in the first place, Einav's pieces also refer to elements of Israeli folk music, funk, and free jazz in various interesting and intelligent ways. Though the high energy levels dominate, the slower, melancholic moods expressed in "Naama" and "New Era Ballad" attest to Einav's ability to do pretty much anything he wants to. Opus One is a beyond impressive debut by an extremely talented young saxophonist.
Track Listing: Jerusalem Theme; Kavana; Naama; The Damelin; Hayu Leilot; Interlude; New Era Ballad; Shavuot; Coda.
Personnel: Shauli Einav: saxophones; Shai Maestro: piano, keyboards; Andy Hunter: trombone; Joseph Lepore: acoustic bass; Johnathan Blake: drums.
Record Label: Plus Loin Music