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Ayelet Rose Gottlieb: Mayim Rabim

Elliott Simon By

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Mayim Rabim is replete with compositions that are able to stand on their own as superb improvisational vehicles for a fine eclectic group of musicians—Israeli-born vocalist Ayelet Rose Gottlieb, pianist Anat Fort, clarinetist Michael Winograd (whose development into a world class klezmer-jazz artist continues to impress), drummer Take Toriyama, cellist Rufus Cappadocia, and four additional vocalists—to deliver eleven sensual pieces. Lyrically, these works draw on material from the Bible's most erotic literature, Shir Hashirim, or Song of Songs, each song being a celebration of love with an emphasis on its passion.

Like love itself, many emotions weave their way through these pieces. An initial wonderment turns to exhilaration, as beautifully stated on "Libavtini (Captivated my heart), where the clarinet joyously sings above a vocal chorus. Other emotional moments include the frank percussive sensuality of "Pithi Li (Open Up), the stark heartache portrayed by Gottlieb's textural vocals and Fort's piano on "Patahti (I Opened), and love's all-consuming enormity expressed by "Mayim Rabim (Great Waters).

Singing primarily in Hebrew, Gottlieb both soars vocally and uses her voice as equal instrumental partner. She's most impressive, however, with her ability to convey a line with a devotion and phrasing that powerfully straddles jazz, cantorial music and the avant-garde. Her brother Michael contributes the perfect male vocal balance on selected cuts, the Persian trope chanting of Galeet Dardashti beautifully blends with the overall erotic exotica feel, and background vocalists Deanna Neil and Michael Cohen add to the powerful breadth of the sound. When viewed holistically, Mayim Rabim succeeds both musically and conceptually. One of this year's finest vocal releases.

Track Listing: Tapuah; Har'ee'nee, Hashmee'ee'nee; Al Mishkavi; Min Ha'midbar; Libavtini; Pithi Li; Patahti; Ana Halah; Ma Yafit; Mayim Rabim.

Personnel: Rufus Cappadocia: cello; Ayelet Rose Gottlieb: voice; Michal Cohen: background vocals; Anat Fort: piano; Michael Gottlieb: voice; Deanna Neil: background vocals; Take Toriyama: drums, percussion; Michael Winograd: clarinet, bass clarinet; Special Guest: Galeet Dardashti: Persian trope.

Title: Mayim Rabim | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Tzadik

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