Guitarist Assaf Kehati's Naked is, as the title insinuates, an adornment free celebration of melody in a spare and intimate setting. Unlike his two earlier recordings Naked features Kehati without a saxophonist and with a new rhythm duo on an introspective set of his expressive originals and three standards.
On the cinematic "The Horses' Fight" for example, Kehati's shimmering lines meander around his sidemen's percolating vamps in an intricate and mellifluous sonic patterns. A mystical sense permeates the music as its mood varies from fast and dramatic to languid and contemplative and back to tense and electrifying.
Elsewhere Kehati's resonant strings open the haunting title track with exquisite poetry. Short yet poignant phrases and silent pauses construct his classically influenced improvisation that evolves in a hypnotic ambience. Kehati's economy of notes is not at the expense of his virtuosity, on the contrary, it sheds light on his technical prowess and crystalizes his inventive ideas. An understated, simmering passion marks his exchanges with his band-mates' rumbling beats. Drummer Ronen Itzik's subtly exciting flourishes add a curiously rock-inspired, dimension to the tune.
Itzik's thrilling and elegant polyrhythmic percussing closes the clever and intriguing "Nathan Bo Rega." Kehati's angular performance flows in crisp, lithe circles over the funky refrains peppered with Latin hints. Bassist Ehud Ettun's agile, oud like solo drips with Levantine lyricism.
Ettun also shines on the folk-ish "Beneath the Almond Tree." His deep, reverberations expand in a warm and engaging ad-lib song that complements Kehati's fluid and dulcet extemporization. The latter evolves in bold motifs and innovative spontaneity that does not sacrifice the piece's mellow, dulcet nature. Itzik contributes a deft and stimulating blend of raw energy and sophistication.
With this uniformly superb and captivating album Kehati and his colleagues have created a work of graceful allure. It is charmingly accessible and simultaneously provocative and crackling with intelligence. It is a refreshingly honest statement of Kehati's artistic development.
Song For Saba; Long Ago And Far Away; Naked; Beneath The Almond Tree; Someday My
Prince Will Come; The Horses' Fight; When Will The Blues Leave; Nathan Bo Rega;