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Tamir Hendelman: Destinations

Dr. Judith Schlesinger By

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Destinations, pianist Tamir Hendelman's second CD as leader, is a bold and satisfying follow-up to his 2008 debut, Playground (Swing Bros). There are many fine pianists with impressive technique and swing who are convincing in a number of styles, play with real feeling, and contribute a tuneful original or two. What increasingly distinguishes Hendelman is his gift for imaginative arranging. For one thing, he will compose an introduction that makes it difficult to predict what follows, but seems perfectly suited—even organic—once the tune begins, as in the way Hendelman sets up the opener, "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," and how the trio turns several unexpected corners before leaning into the full, headlong joy of "You Stepped Out of a Dream." Hendelman creates consistently interesting soundscapes and eloquent solos that sound like no one else's. There are flashes of humor too, such as his tongue-in-cheek tweak of the anthemic Count Basie sign-off that ends "On the Street Where You Live."

Then there's Hendelman's unique take on Antonio Carlos Jobim. In a world of extensive Jobim originals and covers—both recorded and in performance—few, if any, approach this music the way Hendelman does. The evidence on this CD is "Passarim," one of Jobim's lesser-known songs, which builds to a thrilling rhythmic peak that its composer never suggested—not in this dreamy tune, or any other.

Destinations features an intriguing range of moods and material, from Charlie Parker to Ravel and Fletcher Henderson. There are seldom-heard gems by fellow maestros Fred Hersch, Makoto Ozone, and Keith Jarrett, as well as two beautiful Hendelman originals (the infinitely tender "Israeli Waltz" and "Babushka"). The music is enhanced by the excellent and busy bassist Marco Panascia, with his big, dark sound, together with that reliably-superb drummer Lewis Nash, with his signature combination of sophisticated nuance and flat-out swing; each one also gets ample space for dazzling solos.

A tasteful feast from beginning to end, Destinations is a welcome relief from predictable sessions and ho-hum players; it also raises the bar for excellence. Given the excitement this CD created the moment it hit, it seems that Hendelman has truly caught the comet he deserves.

Track Listing: Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams; Passarim; Soft Winds; Le Tombeau de Couperin; My Song; You Stepped Out of a Dream; Israeli Waltz; Anthropology; Babushka; On the Street Where You Live; BQE; Valentine.

Personnel: Tamir Hendelman: piano; Marco Panascia: bass; Lewis Nash: drums.

Title: Destinations | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Resonance Records

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