How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Pianist Roy Assaf decided to try a different studio tactic when he set out to make this record. Instead of simply having his trio take multiple passes at tracks on a single predetermined playlist, he decided to have the group simulate a stay at a club. They recorded multiple sets, accumulating almost five hours worth of recorded music. When all was said and done, he sifted through it all to come up with the best material for this album. It's a novel way to bridge the studio-live divide, and it worked like a charm here.
Assaf and company dole out twelve numbers culled from those sets on Second Row Behind The Painter, referencing everything from Middle Eastern modality to futuristic funk to the work of Duke Ellington
playing the Matt Chamberlain role to perfection. The only other coverIsraeli songwriter Naomi Shemer's "Kvar Acharei Chatzot"is an obvious nod to Assaf's homeland; here, the pianist is in a reflective, Aaron Goldberg
created. "Interlude #1" grows out of rustlings and rumblings, turning into a showcase for Goldbas' goings-on; "Interlude #2" finds the drummer playing a fairly static role, as spare ideas from his band mates come to the fore; and "Interlude #3" is something of a gentle unraveling.
The Assaf originals prove to be just as wide-ranging as the rest of the material. "Second Row Behind The Painter" is both mournful and graceful; "Con Grew" comes off like some lost jam from a Robert Glasper
session; and "Folk-Lore" is eight minutes of pure joy, introduced by a funky drum-and-bass hook-up. If Assaf really has another four hours of this stuff in the can, he should really consider putting some more of it out there. This is primo trio stuff.
Track Listing: Second Row Behind The Painter; Babel; Never Will I Marry; It's A Dance; Interlude #1; I
Got It Bad; Interlude #2; Interlude #3; Con Grew; Folk-Lore; Kvar Acharei Chatzot;