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Fima Ephron: Soul Machine

Glenn Astarita By

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Bassist Fima Ephron is well-known for his affiliation with many of the musicians who comprise New York City's fertile and generally investigative Downtown Scene. Ephron's participation with the excellent band Lost Tribe, amid recent collaborations with electric guitar hero David "Fuze" Fiuczynski, signifies only a few of his endeavors besides enjoying first call status as a session musician. With his debut release, the artist enlists support from his Lost Tribe band-mates, saxophonist David Binney and guitarist Adam Rogers. However, keyboardist Edward Simon's breezy yet sometimes blazing Fender Rhodes work actuates a 70's style jazz-rock feel, whereas drummer Jim Black and the leader lay down the often-beefy rhythms.

Simply put, Ephron doesn't smack his electric bass into submission. He doesn't base his approach upon the pursuance of flashy 16th notes or string slapping escapades, although he can soar to the red zone when required. Essentially, the bassist possesses a lustrous tone, further enhanced by his pumping notes and ability to utilize all registers as a vehicle for harmonization or accentuation. On the piece titled "Hasidic Folk Song," Ephron renders punctual lines atop Jim Black's burgeoning pulse and David Binney's thought-provoking conveyance of a Jewish folk melody.

The musicians intertwine odd-metered backbeats with a distinct sense of thematic expansion, while Rogers and Binney generate much excitement via their blistering crescendos and intricately developed harmonic variations. With "A Desert Storm," the band ventures into a slightly tongue-in-cheek psychedelic space vibe, thanks to David Torn's trippy EFX-based treatments and an ostinato synth groove atop the rhythm sections' surging undercurrents. Thus, Soul Machine is all about the gleeful coexistence of Jewish folk music and zesty modern jazz type interplay, while the ensemble augments its palate with craftily arranged jazz-fusion motifs. Ephron's wittily concocted compositions also feature characteristics that parallel the vim and vigor of an artist who has quite a bit to say. Recommended!

Title: Soul Machine | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Tzadik

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