Bassist/composer Daphna Sadeh may have left her native Israel over a decade ago but the country's colorful musical potpourri is firmly embedded in her DNA. For Sadeh, the confluence of Arabic, Eastern European and Mediterranean influences that resound throughout Israeli culture have provided the building blocks for her longstanding, UK-based ensemble The Voyagers on albums like Reconciliation
(Tzadik, 2009). After a five-year break from the recording studio Sadeh returns with Born in Parallel
, her most ambitious compositional work to date.
Thirteen musicians spanning the worlds of jazz, folk music and classical baroque interweave their threads in a four-part suite orchestrated by Sadeh and David Murphy, the internationally renowned conductor who has garnered significant critical acclaim for his premieres of works by sitarist Ravi Shankar
and sarod player Amjad Ali Khan. The suite is nominally inspired by the ancient Greek's belief that the four elements created all forms of matter but more concretely shaped by Sadeh's musical vision, one that transcends history, geography and cultures.
Sadeh draws from a rich palette, blending two violins, viola, cello, two oboes, bassoon, an additional double bassist, baroque and Eastern flute sonorities, percussion and oud. Sadeh's Voyagers collaborators, trombonist Mark Bassey and flutist/soprano saxophonist Stewart Curtis make a significant imprint on the musical score as soloists, as does oud player Frank Moon. Oud and Curtis' flute feature prominently on "Earth," their snaking solos framed by a rich orchestral score that alternativeyly evokes the smoldering gravitas of Uom Kalthum and the uplifting joie de vivre of Goran Bregovic.
The episodic "Fire" shifts between urgent and meditative passages, between heady Middle Eastern dance rhythms-with flute and trombone centraland baroque pastoralism. Sadeh and Murphy strike a fine balance between enabling soloists and crafting the ensemble voice, with the rotation of instrument combinations a fairly constant feature of the suite. Strings and reeds dovetail on the intro to "Water," before oboe and flute entwine. A chain of bluesy solos of an Eastern hue commencing with soprano saxophone and on through double bass and trombone, constitutes the first half of the piece. A brief orchestral interlude sets up Joe Crouch's captivating unaccompanied cello whose lyricism is tempered by melancholy. All the strands of this mini-orchestra come together on the closing section where a pretty motif is repeated mantra-like by individual and ensemble voices.
The recording's wonderful production values are best heard on the bass and oud intro to the multi-layered "Air." Percussionist Zoe Shevlin and double bass inject buoyancy, carrying Curtis, violinist Bojan Cicic and Bassey's excellent respective solos over a gently swinging groove. Riffing and pizzicato strings combine with reeds in joyous union before oud rallies once more over a bass arco drone. The music gradually diminishes, expiring on a wistful flute phrase.
In an interview with All About Jazz in 2009
Sadeh stated: "I'm not avant-garde. I used to play avant-garde jazz but it's not my style, I'm not interested in that. I just want to make music that will come into the hearts of people. That's it." With Born in Parallel
's orchestra of world musics Sadeh does just that, expanding and refining her somewhat unique musical idiom with this mellifluous, emotive and genre-less offering from the heart.
Earth; Fire; Water; Air.
Stewart Curtis: flute, soprano saxophone; Frank Moon: oud; Mark Bassey: trombone; Daphna Sadeh; double bass, orchestration; Guy Schalom: percussion; Bojan Cicic: 1st violin; Hilary Michael 2nd violin; Clare Barwick: viola; Joe Crouch: cello; Judith Evans: double bass; Rachel Brown: flute; Leo Duarte: 1st oboe; Joel Raymond: 2nd oboe; Zoe Shevlin: bassoon; David Murphy: orchestration, conductor.