There are more than a few welcome surprises on The Growl. Where one would expect jazz-inflected variations on Jewish sounds, the result is bigger and grander than that. This quintet brings something unexpected to every track, playing blues, funk and even mellower styles.
The nine-minute opening title track begins with what at first seems an incoherent blend of sounds, but it soon evolves into a Middle Eastern-inspired groove that showcases saxophonist Marc Mommaas and trumpeter Matt Shulman, who explores the upper register of his instrument as much as the melody allows.
"Romanseiro (River of Tears) begins with a soft piano, but then the rhythm evolves into an Eastern European-meets-regional Italian feel. "Pseifas, initially a feature for bassist Matt Pavolka, is a straight, Brubeck-esque tune, evidence that the musicians spent a lot of time listening to the veteran pianist's band during its years with Paul Desmond.
The only unsuccessful track is "Hasidic Monk, which relies too much on Israeli-inspired sounds without enough space to expand within its format. The listener can feel the album's contrast in moments such as "Loa'Madon, which begins with a swinging bass line that is later expanded to the whole group.
The quintet has compelling chemistry in abundance, a fact that's clear on one of the album's best moments, the bluesy "Sh'Ag, on which leader Alon Nechushtan switches to B-3 and directs the group in a call-and-response segment, then moves them into a free-form section. This kind of fluidity cannot be accomplished unless solid relationships are encouraged and formed between musicians.
Track Listing: Unwrapped/The Growl/Spielman Dreams/Storm Among the Pines; Romanseiro (River of Tears); Hasidic Monk; Pseifas; Me'agel; Loa'madon; Sh'ag; Tikkun Olam (Ladder to the Rainbow); Tzahor; Shoham.
Personnel: Alon Nechushtan: keys; Marc Mommaas: saxophones; Matt Shulman: trumpet; Matt Pavolka: bass; Jordan Perlson: drums.
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!