How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Dr. Kobi Arad hails from Israel, currently resides in New York City and received a doctorate in Contemporary Improvisation and Third Stream jazz, which are foundations and concepts that radiate on Sketches of Imaginary Landscapes. The keyboardist's improvisational skills and creative proclivities envelop this not-so-standard, jazz-based piano trio session.
On the fringes of jazz-fusion, Arad toggles between acoustic and electric keyboards. He crafts a fluent and potent set of works in concert with his revved-up rhythm section amid a progression of undulating flows and keenly articulated dynamics. With his buttery-toned and forceful synth work, Arad pursues a consortium of ideas, largely executed at a rapid pace. The keyboardist dances, darts, and flails across the eighty-eights, while eliciting imagery of sprinkling rays of right, zigzagging across the listening space.
Arad devises a coherent balance, straddling high-octane piano jazz and streaming jazz-fusion metrics, sans any overindulgent tendencies. He intertwines a contemporary classical tone in spots, and engineers numerous, rhythmically inclined theme-building forays via bursting arpeggios and intensifying opuses.
"Interia" signifies a unique compositional structure built on an electronic clavinet sound and an abrupt, yet stately melody, but the keyboardist then proceeds to reverse and reconstruct the currents into sprightly improvisational vehicles. At times, Arad treks into the freer realm, while on "Down the Ladder," he twirls down with mesmeric choruses, and then perpetuates a feisty electric piano groove atop Tucker Yaro's thrusting bass lines.
Arad provides bonus tracks, including a jazzy reconstruction of Thelonious Monk
's "Round Midnight," culled from his performance at The Blue Note, along with two works with cellist Yonatan Niv, recorded at venues in Tel Aviv. Sketches of Imaginary Landscapes professes a colorific mosaic and all-embracing portraiture of an artist who transmits an active imagination, supported by his exceptional technical faculties and perspicacious vision.
Track Listing: Up the Ladder; Bird Eye's View; Interia; The Life Inside; Muon's Dance !; Secret Levels; High Urban Life; Touching Earth; Down the Ladder; Bird Eye's View (Live at The Blue Note NYC); Round Midnight (Live at The Blue Note NYC); Bird Eye's View (Live in Shablul, Tel Aviv); Interia (Live in Shablul, Tel Aviv); New Awareness (Live in Shablul, Tel Aviv).