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Ayal Tsubery: Decisions

Bruce Lindsay By

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Ayal Tsubery is a Berklee-educated bassist and composer influenced, as he puts it, by ..." jazz, Israeli folk, African and Middle Eastern grooves and old-school gritty rock 'n' roll." On his debut album, Decisions, he brings most of those influences together to create a strong set of tunes—not so much of the gritty rock 'n' roll, but jazz and the middle east are very much in evidence.

Percussionist Jon Nellen opens "Blue Nights," setting a mood that conjures visions of midnight trysts beneath the moonlight. The band retains the mood throughout the tune, including Tsubery's smooth electric bass solo. Itai Kriss' flute features strongly on "Parts Come Together," another cool, calm, tune that generates good vibes. Kriss is also to the fore on "Sixth Floor," a tune whose strong melody and dynamic twists and turns hold the attention throughout. Daniel Meron's Fender Rhodes and Tsubery's bass are crucial in establishing the tune's warmth.

"Decisions" owes most to Tsubery's African influence, rhythmically at least, but Eyal Hai's alto is firmly in the jazz camp while Meron's Rhodes harks back to '60s rockers. "Hasin'" shares the rhythmic influences displayed by the title track, its gentler groove a perfect foundation for Meron's spacious but swinging piano. "A Dream I Had About You" brings romance back to prominence—although the urgent bass guitar and frenetic alto saxophone suggest that "romance" may understate the physical responses at play.

There are two exceptions to this groove-laden, positive, music. The beautiful "Lullaby For A Broken Land" opens with Meron's piano and Kriss' flute in a melancholy duet—Meron retains this mood even as the tempo rises and the rest of the sextet builds a wall of sound. "In Motion/Now," featuring Hai and Jonathan Greenstein's alto and tenor saxophones, somehow manages to mix aggression and sadness together in a single, dramatic, composition whose impact lingers long after the tune has ended.

Decisions is available, as usual these days, as a download. Tsubery has also produced a USB version, a less usual choice but one that enables him to market tunes, liner notes and images in a handy little package. Just one decision in the many that go into recording and distributing an album. Tsubery's musical decisions—from the tunes to the band members—are astute. The result is a debut collection of unusual depth and emotional range—a fine beginning to a hopefully lengthy career for Tsubery and his band.

Track Listing: Sixth Floor: Lullaby For A Broken Land; Decisions; In Motion/Now; Hasin'; A Dream I Had About You; Blue Nights; Parts Come Together.

Personnel: Ayal Tsubery: electric bass, acoustic bass; Eyal Hai: alto saxophone; Jonathan Greenstein: tenor saxophone; Itai Kriss: flute; Daniel Meron: piano, Fender Rhodes; Dani Danor: drums; Jon Nellen: percussion.

Title: Decisions | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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