Israeli bassist and composer Omer Avital and his group Qantar, offer their second album, New York Paradox
, producing a musical sound in a unique, splashy and audacious style which is quite riveting. The uniqueness here extends to the members of this quintet who have formed a special bond which is quite evident when they are performing. All five players are Israeli-born and live in the Bed-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. For Avital, this is his twentieth-plus recording as leader or sideman, but only the second effort with this particular band.
The album features eight straight hard-bopping original compositions learned by heart with arrangements created "on the spot, organically," as the group performs the music. It is unconventional but, hey, it works here and is another unique aspect of Qantar. The bassist, as The New Yorker magazine states, is "one of the key figures in the new wave of jazz" and remains an integral part of New York's vibrant jazz scene. Accompanying the leader is Eden Ladin
on piano and keyboards, with Alexander Levin
on tenor saxophone, Asaf Yuria
on tenor and soprano saxophones, and Ofri Nehemya
Named for the Yemenite poet Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, the opening "Shabazi" is the first aggressive hard-driving tune on the set and sets the stage for what is to follow, including the blistering title song and preview to one of the highlights of the album on "Just Like the River Flows," which displays a touch of Middle Eastern flavor.
Though the main theme throughout the album remains aggressive straight hard bop, there are departures from the theme; the down-tempo mood of "It's All Good" is one but still enchanting in many ways. The other seemingly unrelated tune on the session is the perky blues-tinged "Today's Blues," featuring the reeds on what becomes one sensational swinging blues number.
The music draws to a conclusion with two showcase pieces; the first, "C'est Clair," originally titled "Waltz in F Minor," contains a sweet melody which, eventually reveals a boppish flair, in what is perhaps, the defining tune of the album. The finale, "Bushwick After Dark," brings the hard bop sound to the forefront capping a swinging session of music, making New York Paradox
one of the finest swinging sextets in the jazz world today. Kudos to leader Omer Avital and the Qantar gang, for they have earned the critical-acclaim which is sure to come their way.
Shabazi; Zohar Smiles; NY Paradox; Just Like The River Flows; It's All Good; Today's Blues; C'est Clair; Bushwick After Dark.