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Ehran Elisha launches new Israeli label

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Two releases by New York-based drummer Ehran Elisha are the first ones from a new Israeli creative label, OutNow Recordings, run by three musicians—saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer and guitarists Yair Yona and Ido Bukelman—with a noble mission: "search within yourself for the sound you never stop hearing." These albums present the ever creative Elisha in two different contexts.

Ehran Elisha/Roy Campbell

Watching Cartoons with Eddie

OutNow Recordings

2011

The title of this 2008 recording (originally intended to be a double vinyl release) refers to Elisha's teacher, the late drummer Ed Blackwell's well-known hobbies of watching cartoons. It also refers to Campbell's duets with trumpeters Don Cherry and Wadada Leo Smith. It is also the culmination of nearly two decades of collaborative work between Elisha and Campbell.

The first part of the recording features energetic encounters, full of passion and playfulness, with shifting, propelling and rolling tempos, much like Blackwell playing, or like saxophonist Ornette Coleman's, in whose iconic quartet Blackwell played—simple, spirited and with a unique song-like patterns. The 17-minute suite, "For BD," for trumpeter Bill Dixon, a mentor of both Elisha and Campbell, is the exception here. This meditative, deep sound poem was created before Dixon's death and now stands as a tribute. Elisha and Campbell explore their unique sonic vocabularies, beginning with elemental sounds and moving to more abstract articulations.

The second part of the recording—comprised of both parts of "Aesthetic Encounters," with a shorter interlude—begins with a slow, dance-like, ceremonial African polyrhythmic theme, with long and solo parts by both Elisha and Campbell, slowly and patiently intensifying and gaining more volume, volition and power until the expected dense, eruptive climax, before returning to the spare ceremonial sounds. The remainder of the material features Elisha and Campbell back in a classic free jazz encounter, energetic, spirited, full of changing rhythms, with ironic references to jazz masters as on "The Dizzy Roach." "Faith Offers Free Refills" is a continuation of the latter with its African polyrhythmic drumming, and this beautiful recording closes with the quiet, prayer-like "October."

Ehran Elisha/Harold Rubin/Haim Elisha

East of Jaffa

OutNow Recordings

2011

This is a recent recording of classically pianist Haim Elisha, his son Ehran Elisha on drums and the godfather of the small Israeli free improvising scene, clarinetist Harold Rubin. The three spontaneously improvise on spare themes, patiently creating a chamber-like interplay and turning loose, free improvisations into coherent compositions. Rubin usually leads the way, but Haim and Ehran keep challenging him, binding the free-spirited and adventurous Rubin into more melodic structures, mainly on the title suite.

"Empatico" features Ehran Elisha in a loose duet with Rubin. Elisha sets a clear and decisive rhythm while Rubin breaks it free, again and again, and plays according to his own pulse. "Serpentine Suite" begins with a gentle, highly melodic introduction by Rubin and Haim Elisha, both finding repeating patterns, that Ehran Elisha stresses with dramatic and humorist gestures. "Speaks Two Languages Tango" presents the wide vocabulary of Ehran and Haim Elisha, from romantic pop-tango songs, the more sophisticated abstractions of Ástor Piazolla's nuevo tango, contemporary music and jazz, through emphatic interplay. Rubin leads the final piece, "Sages," whispering into his clarinet, with spare and thoughtful playing by Haim Elisha; the pair thoughtfully improvise around spaces and silences, making beautiful music out of these elements.

Tracks and Personnel

Watching Cartoons with Eddie

Tracks: They Enter through the Ears; Watching Cartoons with Eddie; For BD; Aesthetic Encounters, part one; Interlude, dude; Aesthetic Encounters, part two; The Dizzy Roach; Faith Offers Free Refills; October.

Personnel: Roy Campbell: trumpet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet, flute, percussion; Ehran Elisha: drums, bells, temple blocks, gong, roto toms, percussion.

East of Jaffa

Tracks: East of Jaffa/Florentin Dusk; East of Jaffa/The Father, The Son and The Harold Rubin; Empatico; Serpentine Suite; Speaks Two Language Tango; Sages.

Personnel: Ehran Elisha: drums; Harold Rubin: clarinet; Haim Elisha: piano.

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