All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

327

Mark Feldman / Uri Caine / Greg Cohen / Joey Baron: Secrets

Warren Allen By

Sign in to view read count
Mark Feldman, Uri Caine, Greg Cohen and Joey Baron have all played integral parts in John Zorn's many explorations of Jewish improvised music. All four have won acclaim for the distinctness and flexibility of their sounds, but here they work in a setting that defines the meaning of traditional.

With a group such as this, it would be impossible to explore any theme, new or old, without bringing flares of insight. Secrets finds them interpreting a variety of niggunim, the often wordless prayer melodies sung by sects of Hasidic Jews, and they mix a jazz sensibility with slight, indefinable touches of the avant-garde to create a quartet that speaks many languages in one voice.

A distinct warmth and color is brought to a variety of songs by the group, from Caine's bright, swinging keys on the opening "Lubavitcher Nigun," to Cohen's gentle, adroit bass on "Kel Adon." As the instrument most commonly found in traditional Klezmer, Feldman's violin sings with unparalleled distinctness. Plaintive at times, alternately tinged with darkness and comedy at others, his sound is almost unmatched. Meanwhile, Joey Baron's understated percussion gives shape to the atmosphere with whisks of brushes and cymbals.

Most of the album focuses on slower, more ruminative melodies, allowing the performers space and time for inflection and reflection. "Z'Chor Dovon," in particular, is full of transcendent beauty. It opens with a heartfelt melody on violin, backed by a lone piano for one recitation before the entrance of bass and drums. Feldman brings a mournful touch here, which is balanced out by a kind of hopeful humor in Caine's keys.

"Chabad Nigun," "Satmar Rikud," and "Z'Chor Hashem" are joyous masterpieces of up-tempo jazz, with Feldman and Caine testing the lines with modernistic chords and occasional, dissonant bow tweaks. But at the faster paces, these songs also attain a certain joyous folk dance quality that seem to pull gently but persistently at the toes. It's music with roots in many places, from the wedding hall to the jazz club. Baron's solos here are distinctly jazzy, but he peppers the toms with an unrestrained ebullience that speaks beyond setting.

For the closing "Moditzer Nigun," Cohen's nodding bass paves a hypnotic path for Caine's graceful keyboard steps. Deeply moving, filled with whispers of the blues, there is a tone of respectful nostalgia here that shines light on the best sides of tradition. The duet epitomizes the sound of a group that brings rich, emotional playing no matter where or how they play. Those enchanted by the beauty of Secrets will, no doubt, be asking Tzadik for more.


Track Listing: Lubavitcher Nigun; Avinu Malkenu; Chabad Nigun; Z'Chor Dovon; Satmar Rikud; Bobover Nigun; Kel Adon; Z'Chor Hashem; Moditzer Nigun.

Personnel: Mark Feldman: violin; Uri Caine: piano; Greg Cohen: bass; Joey Baron: drums.

Title: Secrets | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Tzadik

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read First Impressions CD/LP/Track Review
First Impressions
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 25, 2018
Read Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two CD/LP/Track Review
Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two
by Chris May
Published: February 25, 2018
Read In Stride CD/LP/Track Review
In Stride
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 25, 2018
Read Osmosis CD/LP/Track Review
Osmosis
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 25, 2018
Read Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest CD/LP/Track Review
Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 25, 2018
Read You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To CD/LP/Track Review
You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 24, 2018
Read "Ugly Beauty" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Nick Davies
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Danza Imposible" CD/LP/Track Review Danza Imposible
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2017
Read "Calvins Toboggan" CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 16, 2017
Read "Takunde" CD/LP/Track Review Takunde
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 8, 2017
Read "Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965" CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Constant Change 1976-2016" CD/LP/Track Review Constant Change 1976-2016
by John Sharpe
Published: July 19, 2017