Saxophonist Lena Bloch knows something about the pain of separation from one's homeland. Born in Russia, she emigrated to Israel in 1990, then to Europe and, finally, in 2008, to the United States, setting up shop in New York City's fertile jazz ground. In 2014, Feathery
, (Thirteen Note Records), the album and her quartet of that name, came into being.
The group's second album, Heart Knows
(Fresh Sound New Talent, 2007), cemented her distinctive horn-and-rhythm-section approach, with bassist Cameron Brown
, pianist Russ Lossing
and drummer Billy Mintz
, a group that crafts a spacious, wide open sound full of spontaneous beauty and unpredictabilityfour feathers dropped in a gentle breeze to sway and drift in intersecting paths of circuitous gravitation goals. Rose Of Lifta
moves that sound further along.
Superior ensembles develop deep levels of telepathy, a singularity of purpose. That is evident here. It has become a cliche to say someoneusually a rhythm section player, a drummer, bassist or pianistelevates the music. With Lena Bloch's Feathery, everyone participates in the four-way elevation in a series of seven compositionsfour by Bloch, three from pianist Lossingwhich makes the set sound like an interwoven suite. The influence of pianist Lennie Tristano
is here, as are Middle-Eastern motifs; and, while soloing doesn't generally get a front seat, Losing and Bloch lay down some understated beauties.
Appealing and approachably complex sounds evolved in part from the influence of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, a writer from a country of multitudes of dispossessed and displaced souls. Bloch herself is no stranger to this problem, having left her own homeland for Israel, then Europe, to finally settle in the United States only to slip into a precarious status in her chosen homeland due to a fight with the buracracy of obtaining legal residency. A yearning for home (the old one and a new one) gives her music a soulfulness and honesty, pointing perhaps to a universal human need for roots, new or old, that informs Rose Of Lifta
The music has a delicacy of four-way articulation underlain by an on-the-sleeve emotional, longing-for-home honesty in creation of a distinctive quartet sound for which comparisons cannot be found. Fresh and beautiful stuff.
Promise Of Return; Mad Mirror; New Home; Climbing Rose Of Lifta; Old Home; Mahmoud Darwish; Wintry