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Ehud Asherie: Modern Life

Dan Bilawsky By

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A dichotomy exists within the musical mind of pianist Ehud Asherie. The youthful pianist is clearly an old soul in many ways. His choice of material—including tunes from George Gershwin, Billy Strayhorn and Jerome Kern—combined with his knowledge of stride piano and fondness for the jazz masters of the early twentieth century are a throwback. However, Asherie also shows a thoroughly modern concept with some of his choices and stylistic preferences. These two sides converge on Modern Life. While he went with a quintet on Lockout (Posi-Tone, 2007) and Swing Set (Posi-Tone, 2008) featured a trio, he split the difference for Modern Life and goes with a quartet.

This foursome, featuring saxophonist Harry Allen, travels through a pair of Asherie originals and a variety of material from yesteryear. Asherie's clean lines and two-handed independence help to create compelling and exciting moments throughout the album. While Allen often arrives with a clean and alluring sound, he ramps up the energy as the song develops and often puts more grit into the mixture, giving off a bit more edge as the music unfolds. While this pattern remains consistent across the majority of the album, the biggest exception is "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing." Allen creates a noir-ish scene, using breathy vibrato with a slight Ben Webster-influence, during this performance. Every note that Asherie plays here comes out as a crystalline musical jewel, helping to heighten the emotional impact.

While Asherie and Allen work well together without any help, drummer Chuck Riggs and bassist Joel Forbes prove to be the rhythmic engine that powers the group. Whether providing a jaunty feel on Asherie's "One For V," driving the up-tempo performances like "The Trolley Song" or simply showing that less is more on "He Loves And She Loves," they always provide what is right in the moment.

Allen and Asherie take the bulk of the soloing on the record, whether wailing through a chorus or two or trading eight bars back and forth. Riggs gets in on the trading action every once in a while and Forbes steals the show with his solo on the aforementioned "One For V," but the focus remains largely on piano and saxophone. Asherie's performances on this album showcase his sophisticated sense of swing, strong musical instincts and a connection with Harry Allen that warrants more recorded music from this pairing.

Track Listing: I've Told Every Little Star; Blues For George; The Trolley Song; He Loves And She Loves; Vignette; One For V; No Moon At All; Casbah; Soon; A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing.

Personnel: Ehud Asherie: piano; Harry Allen: saxophone; Joel Forbes: bass; Chuck Riggs: drums.

Title: Modern Life | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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