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Abe Ovadia Trio: New York, NY, November 6, 2012

Daniel Lehner By

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Abe Ovadia Trio
Cornelia Street Cafe
New York, NY
November 6, 2012

The night of the 2012 U.S. presidential election happened to be a few days into the slow return of many West Village jazz clubs, back to regular operation after Hurricane Sandy. Thus, Cornelia Street Café and many other clubs like it were eager, even in spite of all of the recovery from the previous week and the hubbub of the election results, to get acts back on stage and people back into the clubs to enjoy live music. One group, a relatively young/new group amidst Cornelia's seasoned event calendar, was led by 25-year-old guitarist Abe Ovadia, joined by his band mates Anthony Pocetti on organ and Steve Picataggio on drums.

As a guitarist, Ovadia distilled some of the diverse influences that shape the styles of New York guitarists like Steve Cardenas and Kurt Rosenwinkel. His sound held a certain fondness for fluid, washed-out sound, with combinations of open strings and fixed patterns that encompassed both modern jazz complexity with post-grunge rock influences, while still holding onto strong bebop and post-bop linear concepts. On "Milestones," Ovadia took advantage of Miles Davis's melodically and harmonically spacious tune to bring out a whole mix of techniques, ranging from pointillist hammer-ons to bebop runs, to long, screaming notes. The guitarist managed to use the same logic in more fixed parameters, bringing the same wide-stepping energy and freedom into the bustling blues of Larry Young's "Backup."

The guitar/organ/trio setup made for some interesting and texturally varied occurrences. Far from experiencing any anemia, the syrupy but serious ¾ swagger of Ovadia's "Choo-Choo Lounge" was almost oversaturated in sound, Pocetti's organ hums running in tandem with Ovadia's obsessively deliberate patterns. The trio's ballad take on "I Remember You" took on a surprisingly eerie and otherworldly feel, creating a wide interplay between the low and the high voices , even down to Picataggio's drum kit. The trio's strongest rendition, that of John Coltrane's "Africa," brought out an almost rock-n-roll aspect to the intense earnestness of the tune, the guitarist and the organist trading deviously simple comping over high-octane flourishes.

Ovadia and Pocetti, being both harmonic and melodic voices, made for an interesting pair in their approach and contributions to the group. Whereas Ovadia's melodic and chordal concepts sought to traverse over wide landscapes of harmony and rhythm, Pocetti's sound was more compact and linear. During Charlie Parker's "Anthropology" in particular, he cooled down the charged atmosphere with long but spiky bebop lines before Ovadia turned it back out again. Picataggio's contributions made for a strong intermediary, breaking down and reassembling the energy in each section of the tunes.

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