These days, when a young bassist leads a horns-based band, the comparisons and correlations to the late Charles Mingus become inevitable. Israeli-born bassist/composer Omer Avital delivers the goods in prominent fashion while exhibiting star-like qualities on his debut solo offering, entitled Think With Your Heart
The band launches into a zestful Afro-Cuban groove, featuring Jay Collins' peppery flute work on "Flow." With this piece, Avital's fluent upper register soloing and broad toned walking bass lines augment the soloists' radiant unison choruses and melodious lyricism. Elsewhere, the musicians sustain a series of tightly woven frameworks while also communicating a loose vibe amid variable undercurrents and softly stated choruses. However, Avital's beautifully conceptualized arrangements and melodic compositional gifts surface on more than just a few occasions.
The majority of these works are constructed upon buoyantly executed rhythms, all encircled within climactic opuses and the musicians' intermittent injections of funk, soul and swing. Avital and associates take the listener on an enigmatic journey during "Marrakesh," thanks to the sax sections' efficient utilization of space atop a world beat vamp and a celebratory Middle Eastern style motif. Nonetheless, the woodwind section and the percussion unit keep this train a rolling via an abundance of glimmering solos and sympathetic interpretations of Avital's often-lucid compositions. No doubt, Avital has produced one of the top ten jazz outings of the year. - - Emphatically recommended!
Personnel: Greg Tardy: tenor sax & bass clarinet - Jay Collins: flute, tenor sax, bamboo flutes & soprano sax