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Ari Erev: A Handful of Changes

Edward Blanco By

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On his previous recording, About Time (CDBABY, 2008), Israeli pianist Ari Erev led a jazz piano trio in a blend of standards featuring the music of Bill Evans. In continuing his exploration of jazz, Erev engineers A Handful of Changes, affirming what he once stated: "My music has evolved during the past few years." With this extraordinary outing, Erev changes the dynamics of his music, featuring Latin elements and establishing an assertive bop-ish flair in a dramatic departure from the past. To accomplish this, he incorporates the voices of various saxophones, a clarinet and percussion in a mixed selection of new and cover tunes, in a variety of settings ranging from a duet to a two-saxophone sextet, reflecting the other major change adopted here: essentially, an expanded personnel.

Recorded in Israel, Erev naturally enlists a band of Israeli musicians for this date: musician/educators Arie Volinez (bass) and Eitan Itzcovich (drums), along with Tel Aviv saxophonist Ofer Shapiro. Percussionist Gilad Dobrecky and bassist Tal Ronen are both Israeli-born players who are currently based in New York. The only non-Israeli member of the group is veteran New York saxophonist Joel Frahm, who happens to play a prominent role on eight tracks, performing on both tenor and soprano saxophones.

Wasting no time in demonstrating just how different the music on this album is in comparison to previous efforts, Erev's Latin-tinged "Open Possibilities" begins the transformation, an exciting and percussive piece containing Frahm's hard-driving tones. "Irit's Wave" is a soft lyrical waltz dedicated to Erev's wife, featuring tender piano chords, while "Step by Step" captures Frahm on a sizzling soprano as Erev lays down a haunting melody. One of the many highlights of the disc is "Kshe' Or Dolek Ba' Halonekh (Light in Your Window)," featuring Shapiro on an extensive clarinet excursion.

One of the few pieces without saxophone accompaniment, is the unusual trio medley of Chopin and Cole Porter on "Prelude In E Minor Opus 28 No. 4/ So In Love." Elsewhere, Erev and Frahm combine beautiful solo moments, making the lush balladic melody of "Simple Melody" another highlight. Returning with one more Latin feel, "Precious Present" is a Brazilian-flavored piece—one of the defining moments of the disc, featuring the two-sax attack of Frahm on soprano and Shapiro on alto.

The session winds down with the upbeat "Transformation," the classical-bent Alexander Argov piece, "Me' ever La Tkhelet (Beyond The Blue)" and the airily modern "On Second Thought," performed by a quartet that highlights some of the pianist's best solos alongside Frahm's soprano mastery. Much more than a transformative musical expose for pianist Erev, A Handful of Changes is quite a handful of a session in the best tradition of mainstream, straight-ahead jazz. If not well known beyond the borders of Israel, this musical statement is sure to lift the pianist to another level, securing him a more visible place on the map.

Track Listing: Open Possibilities; Irit's Wave; Step by Step; Kshe' Or Dolek Ba'Halonekh (Light in Your Window); Prelude in E minor Opus. 28 No. 4/So In Love; Simple Melody; Precious Present; (Interlude) For All We Know; Transformation; Me'ever La Tkhelet (Beyond the Blue); On Second Thought.

Personnel: Ari Erev: piano; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Gilad Dobrecky: percussion: Arie Volinez: electric bass, double bass (2); Tal Ronen: double bass (4, 5, 10); Eitan Itzcovich: drums; Ofer Shapiro: alto saxophone (7), clarinet (4).

Title: A Handful of Changes | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced

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