Whereas the first album in the series saw him giving much room to his trio members to showcase their talent, in this second album, Gilad Chatsav really takes the lead on every piece, thus confirming his competence as a jazz pianist and his well-seated position on the Israeli jazz scene. Jazz from the Middle to the EastSongs from the White City volume 2
is the second album in the series, still featuring Stewart Welch on bass and joined in this time by very active Israeli drummer Shay Zelman. The album consists of 10 tracks, including four covers, four original compositions and one arrangement of an Israeli popular song by icon singer Ofra Haza.
The album opens with a romping rendition of Wes Montgomery's Four on Six
, where we recognize Gilad Chatsav's fondness for lively tempos and the spirit of jazz. The first few notes of Errol Garner's notorious ballad, Misty
, set the mood of the album and Chatsav's fluid and swinging solo keeps the attention of all of us, straightforward jazz lovers. Keeping in the same vein, the trio performs another popular cover, Beatrice
, with the same ease. Unlike the original, which is elegant and smooth, Chatsav's interpretation is definitely livelier, omitting a tender introduction and delving right into the melody whilst keeping his trio into a tight-knit performance. As a last cover, Chatsav is unafraid to tackle the freewheeling, fiery, cerebral Giant Steps
. Although I've always personally enjoyed McCoy Tyner's version, Gilad Chatsav's more intimate interpretation is as compelling. Chatsav, I find, is less concerned about making it sound like an exercise but concentrates more on the recurring melody. Lament for Kent
is undoubtedly the follow-up from November in Prague
which appeared on Volume 1 of the series, as if it formed a diptych. Welch's bass playing on these two tunes is so convincingly sad the listener can only imagine the story behind it. The tune starts in a mournful tone but soon morphs into a fiery crescendo with Chatsav's piano solo, the kind his followers wish he'd perform more often. One of my favourite tunes on the album is the appropriately titled, cinematic Music for a French Film
, which reveals a more vulnerable side of Gilad Chatsav. Through the simple, languid phrasing, Chatsav does a bit of soul-searching in performing a softer melody which culminates in a short, heart-stirring spiraling of notes, and even though, he doesn't quite dare surrender completely, the tune is infectious. Another one of my favourite is Stew's Blues
, where Chatsav returns to more familiar territory and engages in an upbeat tune, introduced by a short bass solo before ending the piece with a repeating chorus, which is one of Chatsav's signatures.
Except for Na'ama
, one of Ofra Haza's most popular songs and one of Chatsav's personal favourites, which sticks like a sore thumb in this otherwise very cool jazz set, and Faustina Sokolov's vocals which sound too forced, Jazz from the Middle to the East-Songs from the White City volume 2
is an enjoyable mix of well-executed up-tempo standards and softer tunes, which every aficionado of Israeli jazz musicians should include in their collection.
Now that listeners are more familiar with Chatsav's evident musicianship, we can only hope for his next album to include solely original compositions.