Israeli composer and pianist Yitzhak Yedid's sixth release, his third for the German Between the Lines label, is his most assured and most improvised statement to date. Yedid replaced his cerebral, well-crafted, dense and intricate compositions this time with a looser road map that sketched themes and motifs, but left plenty of room for the members of his ensemble (all of whom have taken part in his past projects)Canadian clarinetist François Houle, Israeli bassist Ora Boasson-Horev and violist Galia Haito improvise and add their musical narratives to the misty stories that Yedid draws.
This six-part composition, recorded at Vienna in September of 2004, depicts different characters from an imaginary world, and the rich musical vocabulary of Yedid and the members of this ensemble illuminates these portraits with a wide spectrum of sourcesfrom modern classical music and modern jazz through Middle-Eastern scales to Sephardic-Jewish religious prayers, especially the liturgical songs known as Bakashot, originally sung by Jews who come from Syria. All the "Images" here emerge spontaneously, and the music sounds like it develops and breaths organically, leaving space for genuine and highly creative interplay, and giving enough time to the listener to contemplate these stories.
The ethereal and gentle atmosphere of "First Image" is followed by the more dramatic and intense playing of "Second Image," which references modern music, dances and liturgical ceremonial musicin the parts where Yedid hammers the piano stringsand still leaves enough room for each player to add his own solo. It moves naturally to the elegant, contemplative "Third Image," which erupts surprisingly with some extroverted playing by the ensemble.
Boasson-Horev plays masterfully throughout "Fourth Image," where she deploys extended techniques on the bass, always seeking new possibilities on her instrument, with only minimal accompaniment by Yedid. "Fifth Image" focuses on a dramatic theme that Yedid, Hai and Boasson-Horev deconstruct and reconstruct, often in such a raging manner that a creative percussionist might have fit into this musical mayhem. "Sixth Image" is a slow and dark piece where Hai and Boasson-Horev's colliding playing builds the tension, and Yedid and Houle's measured playing resolves it.
Reflections Upon Six Images is a beautiful and mature recording. Yedid defines his musical style here in a way that may distance him from the standard jazz composer by virtue of his choice of references, instrumentation and sounds. But he still carries the humane and free spirit of a true jazz musician, and he succeeds in expanding the jazz vocabulary in an original and impressive way.