Picture This, by the Alon Yavnai Trio, features an intriguing mix of music from different geographical areas as well as historical eras. Backed by Massimo Biolcati on acoustic bass and Take Toriyama on drums (with guest spots by Cuban reed player Paquito D'Rivera), pianist Yavnai tackles Middle Eastern-tinged material, a Bach fugue, as well as some Cuban jazz offerings. Impressively, the band is able to offer dynamic, forward-looking performances, even when they are looking to the past.
Drummer Toriyama, in particular, fires these pieces. His off-kilter interjections and unique percussion voices seem to keep his band mates on edge and alert to the possibilities of each number. His inventiveness on "The Beginning, composed by bassist Biolcati, certainly inspires admiration.
Picture This is a deeply ambitious work, an attempt to connect the dots between music of disparate types and different eras with the common element of jazz swing. However, the all-inclusive embrace of the material yields an album that never sounds pedantic or overburdened by the history and genre minutiae of the music. The trio succeeds in making even the mathematical rigors of a Bach fugue seem entirely appropriate for the tender sway of a slow dance.
Track Listing: Blues For Alon; Paquito's Merengue; The Beginning; Fugue No. 7 Eb Major From 2nd Book; Funk Tango; Mouche Blues; Zamba Azul; Up Hill; Picture This; Long Time Ago Moses
Personnel: Alon Yavnai-piano; Massimo Biolcati-acoustic bass; Take Toriyama-drums; with Paquito D'Rivera-reeds
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.