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Paul Shapiro: It's in the Twilight

Sean Patrick Fitzell By

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Paul Shapiro: It's in the Twilight Day's slide into night, the work week's conclusion, and prayers of the Jewish Shabbat inspired saxophonist Paul Shapiro's compositions and arrangements for It's in the Twilight. It is celebratory music, imbued with optimism for change arising at these temporal transformations, a musical salve for these troubled times.

Inviting melodic heads develop from Shapiro, combining with fellow tenor saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum and trumpeter Steven Bernstein. The three play tight unison lines and punchy horn pops, exploring the Jewish scales. The catchy horn hooks are bolstered by the inventive rhythm section—pianist Brian Mitchell, bassist Booker King and drummer Tony Lewis—which lays down a variety of funk and R&B feels, brings the swing, and even drops some Gulf Coast Afro-Cuban flavors. The danceable grooves are appealingly familiar and form an elegant union with the melodic themes.

"Light Rolls Away the Darkness opens with a hip Afro-Cuban pattern for the horn section's interpretation of the melody accompanying the evening prayer. The unison part recedes for a succession of dynamic solos: Shapiro's round tenor takes a narrative turn, Mitchell's piano playfully inverts the rhythmic feel, and Bernstein's trumpet adds a lyrical touch. Concise solos are the norm, consistently accentuated with rhythmic modulation and harmonic snippets to play off.

A classic "jungle beat" propels "Children of Abraham and becomes a spotlight for Bernstein's soaring performance; on "The Sun Keeps on Coming Up, the rhythm section quickens the tempo to spur Apfelbaum's urgency. The old-time swinging feel of "Oy Veys Mir finds King's thumping bass line transforming into a ripping bass feature, before Lewis takes a classic drum solo and modernizes it with melodic ingenuity around the kit.

All the pieces converge for the infectious "Lecha Dodi Twilight. A greasy funk supports the popping melody, setting up a strong Bernstein flight and a few rounds of tenor sparring, before the group vocals add a charming, folksy vibe.


Track Listing: Light Rolls Away the Darkness; Children of Abraham; The Sun Keeps On Coming Up; Lecha Dodi Twilight; Kiddush; Oy Veys Mir; Adon Olam; One Must Leave So Another May Come.

Personnel: Paul Shapiro: tenor Sax, vocals; Steven Bernstein: trumpet, slide trumpet, vocals; Peter Apfelbaum: tenor sax, vocals; Brian Mitchell: piano; Booker King: acoustic bass; Tony Lewis: drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Tzadik | Style: Modern Jazz


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