Alon Yavnai - Jesper Riis: Reconnect

Jakob Baekgaard By

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A first meeting can be something special. Perhaps, a certain chemistry is present. Perhaps, there is feeling of immediate communication. Sometimes these first meetings evolve into long-term friendships and relationships, but other times, people just drift apart again for no particular reason.

In a way, being a jazz musician could be characterized as a series of first meetings. In rock music, people often stay together in the same band for many years, but it is different with jazz musicians. Usually, their projects do not last that long. They play together in one constellation and move on to something new. Sometimes, they meet only one time and never play together again, but other times, they reconnect and create music that is perhaps even deeper than that illusive first meeting because it has the imprint of history and experience. This is what happens on the duo-album Reconnect by Israel-born pianist Alon Yavnai and Danish trumpeter Jesper Riis.

Yavnai and Riis meet 22 years ago in Miami where they both studied music and since then, they have carved out successful careers for themselves. Yavnai's lyrical piano style has won him great acclaim and Riis has been a sought after arranger, composer and instrumentalist, who has worked with big bands and smaller constellations.

One-and-a-half years ago, they meet again in New York and the idea of doing a duo-album together was born. The chemistry was there from the beginning. "Reconnect #1" and "Reconnect #2" were meant as little improvised warm-up exercises to get things going, but evolved into instant compositions that both ended up on the album. It is hard to believe that the carefully constructed airy trumpet lines and sophisticated harmonies from Yavnai's piano are the gifts of the moment, but this is exactly what they are. This is two musicians creating musical poetry in the moment.

Elsewhere, Yavnai and Riis play their own compositions. Among the highlights are "Flowers" whose lyrical beauty develops organically from shifting harmonic patterns and the quiet whispering of Yavnai's wordless vocal and Riis' muted trumpet lines on "Itamar."

There is no doubt that Yavnai and Riis are on to something truly special. This is not just a routine jam session between two experienced musicians. It is an inspired musical meeting that has the instant connection of a first meeting and the depth of an old friendship.

Track Listing: Reconnect #1 (improvisation); Compete #2; Au Castagney -2nd Movement; Flowers; Itamar; Competa #3; Certain Standards; Face Love; Reconnect #2 (Improvisation); SOF.

Personnel: Alon Yavnai: piano; Jesper Riis: trumpet.

Title: Reconnect | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Gateway Music

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