Pianist Roy Assaf and bassist Eddy Khaimovich are true musical soul mates. Much like the legendary partnerships of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams, or Chick Corea and Gary Burton, Assaf and Khaimovich share unique similarities in their approach to playing and composing, perhaps as a result of their shared cultural heritage. On Andarta, the two New York-based, Israeli natives display strong technical skills through an array of stylistic influences.
The quartet for the session is rounded out by saxophonist Robin Verheyen and drummer Ronen Itzik, while trumpeter Roy Hargrove lends his unmistakable presence to three tracks. "All of You" and "You Don't Know What Love Is," the disc's two standards, open the session with unpredictable rhythmic and harmonic shifts over well-developed themes, a recurring characteristic of the entire outing.
Khaimovich introduces his own composition "Stuv" with an upper-register melodic statement before Verheyen careens his tenor through the Wayne Shorter-style waltz. Throughout the disc, the bassist spends ample time in the upper-register, especially during solos, evoking the virtuosity of players like Eddie Gomez and Gary Peacock. What's most impressive, however, is Khaimovich's solid feel and unrelenting momentum, maintaining, with the help of drummer Itzik, an energetic flow from start to finish.
Assaf's modernistic approach to piano playing is refreshingly uncontrived. The pianist shapes his lines on a strong understanding of bebop vocabulary, flowing freely from one idea to the next. His hard-hitting original "On the Way..." features one of the more boisterous, swinging solos on the disc.
The title track, composed by Khaimovich, serves as a fitting summation to a disc full of unexpected twists and turns. The tune begins with Itzik's driving ride cymbal underneath Verheyen's flowing soprano. After a scorching display of Khaimovich's solo chops, the tune erupts into an energized, rocked-out vampa startling finish that will make you want to listen again and again.
All of You; You Don't Know What Love Is; Stuv; On the Way...; The Saga of Imaba; Waltz for T; Andarta.
Roy Hargrove: trumpet (1,2,4); Robin Verheyen: saxophones (1,3-7); Roy Assaf: piano; Eddy Khaimovich: bass; Ronen Itzik: drums.
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