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Itamar Erez / The Adama Ensemble: Hommage

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Four years passed between the debut recording of Israeli pianist/guitarist Itamar Erez and this sophomore one. Desert Song (Self Produced, 2006), was recorded with his Canadian quartet, and after relocating to Israel he founded a local quartet, based on the same instrumentation that was introduced by the pioneering, genre-breaking quartet, Oregon.

On Hommage, Erez expands his musical horizons, dedicating his compositions to few of his musical inspirations: Brazilian composer and guitarist/pianist Egberto Gismonti; Tunisian oud master Anouar Brahem; Spanish flamenco guitar master Vicente Amigo; and two collaborators, American-Turkish world music multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Gypsy guitarist Lulo Reinhardt. Surprisingly, there is no dedication to another influential musician, Orgeon's guitarist/pianist Ralph Towner, but it is a heartfelt homage, and some of the musical dedications are beautiful and imaginary, though others fall short of delivering a similar experience.

Such is the case with opening "Anouar," after Brahem, where the quartet follows the patient, hesitant development of the melody that is often typical to Brahem, but too soon opts for an obvious melodic theme that misses the fleeting mystery of Brahem's compositions. "The Promise" an "Intense" owe much to ECM-era Oregon compositions; both containing simple and playful melodies based on close interplay between Erez (on piano) and Lachish (on oboe).

The dedication to Tekbilek, with Tekbilek himself adding ney flute, is one of the album's most successful tributes. It is so passionate that the beautiful melody simply erupts, through swift changes of solos between Erez (on guitar) and Tekbilek, and the song gains more volume and energy as the other musicians join in. The dedication to Reinhardt is, as expected, a joyful guitar solo from Erez.

The most successful dedications are the ones for Amigo and Gismonti. "Prisoner's Song," after Amigo, with excellent flamenco vocalist Yehuda Sheviky, possesses a virtuosic, muscular melody that vibrates with intense passion and surprising twists. Erez's breezy solo guitar composition, "Belonging," bridges the gap between the steaming articulation of his dedication to Amigo and the sophisticated, multilayered Gismonti tribute, "Hommage." It's clear the Erez has studied Gismonti's repertoire and guitar playing closely, and he's managed to compose a brilliant melody that sounds as if it were coming from the Gismonti school while, at the same time, being different and distinctive.

Track Listing: Anouar (intro); Anouar; The Promise; Pmar'a; Choro for Lulo; Intense; Prisoner's Song; Belonging; Hommage; Nocturne.

Personnel: Itamar Erez: piano, guitar; Yoram Lachish: oboe, English horn; Yorai Oron: acoustic bass; Dani Benedict: drims; Sholomo Deshet: percussion(3, 4, 6, 9); Omar faruk Tekbilek: ney flute (3); Yehuda (Shuky) Sheviky: vocals (7).

Title: Hommage | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced

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