Trio Shalva: Breeza (2014)
While Trio Shalva basically makes its art through the fusion of Middle Eastern tones and Jewish ideals with jazz language and intent, it doesn't limit itself in terms of musical and geographical dividing lines. This outfit is just as likely to graft calypso-esque gaiety and soca grooves onto music with Hebraic origins ("Mizmor Laila") as it is to play things out in straight(er) fashion. Pianist Assaf Gleizner has no problem tossing off twinkling lines and a Cuban aside before going to post-bop places ("Ba LaShehuna Bahur Hadash"), bassist/oudist Koby Hayon has a completely different character on each instrument, and drummer Nadav Snir-Zelniker balances the fluid and firm in all of his work. When these personalities merge, they create a unique blend that gives Trio Shalva its identity.
Originals, new interpretations of traditional songs, an expansive take on a Beatles classic ("Eleanor Rigby"), and a Björk favorite ("Bachelorette") all sit comfortably next to one another, united through the language(s) spoken by these three men. Introspection has its place here, as does aggression, but no single mood dominates. The trio can get feisty and fresh, delivering music that's wholly coherent and firmly structured, yet quirky and somewhat disjointed ("Ani Godin"), but it's also capable of staying a mesmerizing course with melodica and oud in the picture ("Yad Anuga").
Riding Alone was a pleasing debut, but Breeza is a notch above it. The years between the two records have only helped to deepen the connection between these three men.
Track Listing: Mizmor Laila; Hatzot; Ad Olam Ahake; Ba LaShehuna Bahur Hadash; Yad Anuga; Eleanor Rigby; Ani Godin; Isabella; Bachelorette.
Personnel: Assaf Gleizner: piano, melodica, guitar; Koby Hayon: bass, oud, guitar; Nadav Snir-Zelniker: drums, percussion.
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz