Gilad Chatsav's third album, Jazz from the Middle to the EastSongs
from Tel Aviv
, grabs you from the start. Not necessarily because of its musical ingenuity, but because of its diversity of styles and rhythms. The album features ten pieces, all original compositions by Chatsav, saving two by Welch as well as two arrangements ("Caravan" and "Ode to the Bay").
Gilad Chatsav teams up again with old friend and bassist Stewart Welch and is joined this time by Boston-based drummer Noam Israeli, who is carving himself a serious career in the United States. The interplay between the trio is natural and they came up with tunes that slowly reveal their textures as you listen to them repeatedly.
Whilst Chatsav is the one leading his trio, he gives Welch ample room to showcase his musicianship and, although he may seem minor at first, Israeli's performance and constant backing is intrinsic to each piece.
The set undoubtedly comes from the cool jazz tradition, though it includes Latin and Middle Eastern undertones. The album opens with the quick tempo of "Olmsted Blues," which suggests a classical approach to jazz, followed by "Down in Jaffa," which is reminiscent of Choro music, with its fast and happy rhythm. "Sinai" and "Bloom," both Chatsav's original compositions, which he had already released on his previous album Places
, show how distinguished a composer he is (and we can just imagine how he'd excel at improvisation.) In these versions, he plays solos that are uninhibited, yet elegant and which clearly demonstrate that Chatsav, in spite of his involvement with other musical genres, he is foremost a jazz pianist. The atmospheric start of "Sinai," supported by the bass and drums droning beat, slowly leads Chatsav into an earnest solo which clearly validates the range of his musical ability. The prudent approach to "Bloom," with its melody ebbing in and out at first, soon turns into a more confident variety of fluctuating tempos, which Chatsav teases the listener with, as if he didn't want to abandon the melody, sounding almost improvised. My only regret is that it doesn't last long enough to be enjoyed to its fullest. One of my favorite pieces has to be "November in Prague," which reveals a melancholic, almost plaintive, conversation between the bass and the piano. Chatsav's sorrowful and minimalist playing benefits from Welch's accompaniment which introduces and propels the melody.
"Don't Worry" is another Chatsav composition, of which the fluency meanders through a couple of musical lines, and which, once again, confirms how Chatsav enjoys inspiring his listeners to feel a range of emotions in just a few minutes. He includes two arrangements from two very different sources, Otis Redding's famous "Ode to the Bay" and Duke Ellington's jazz standard "Caravan." The latter sounds much less exotic than its original version, but is balanced by "Ode to the Bay"'s playful mid-tempo. The alternate take on "Olmsted Blues" brings the set to a full circle.
Altogether, a very enjoyable album. Keep an eye out for Gilad Chatsav, there is serious potential here.