160

Gilad Atzmon and The Orient House Ensemble: The Tide Has Changed

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Gilad Atzmon and The Orient House Ensemble: The Tide Has Changed The genre-conflating musical behemoth that is the Orient House Ensemble, led by multi-instrumentalist, composer, essayist and political commentator Gilad Atzmon, celebrates its 10th anniversary with the release of its seventh album, The Tide Has Changed. Funny, eerie, romantic and intriguing by turns, this is a work of tremendous warmth and strength. Atzmon's spirit and soul inhabit every one of his compositions, and his playing is truly exceptional, staking a genuine claim to being one of the finest saxophonists in contemporary jazz.

All four of the musicians are at the top of their form. Drummer Eddie Hick, who joined the Ensemble in 2009 at age just 22, is a fine replacement for founding-member Asaf Sirkis—gently building washes of percussion on "We Lament," and underpinning the melody with subtly swinging rhythms on "London to Gaza." Bassist Yaron Stavi—who, like Atzmon, is Israeli-born but UK-based—took over from original bassist Oli Hayhurst in 2003. He takes control of the music's core with fluid, lyrical and, at times, darkly brooding playing. Pianist Frank Harrison, an original Ensemble member, is uniformly excellent; his gentle chords on Maurice Ravel's "Bolero at Sunrise" are a delight.

The album opens with "Dry Fear"—a dark, disturbing, tune of unknown terrors? No. Instead, Derek "The Draw" Hussey—vocalist with The Blockheads, another of Atzmon's bands, and ex-minder to original Blockheads singer and writer Ian Dury—introduces the Ensemble over a jolly tune that wouldn't be out of place on the soundtrack to Cabaret (1972). Perhaps the title is a nod to the anxiety that grips many performers in the minutes before they take to the stage; perhaps it's a pun on drei, vier (three, four); perhaps, neither. But it's definitely fun—and unexpected.

The album gets under way in more "traditional" Orient House Ensemble style with "The Tide Has Changed." Harrison strums the piano strings as Atzmon builds up a tense, melancholy atmosphere on alto sax. Then, suddenly, Atzmon shifts the mood with an upbeat staccato riff to signal the entrance of Stavi and Hick. The drummer and bassist enthusiastically drive the music on until, once again, the mood darkens—thanks as much to their subtle rhythmic changes as to Atzmon's own shift in tone.

Tali Atzmon's wordless vocal on "And So Have We" gives the tune an air of unsettling beauty—rather like Krzysztof Komeda's soundtrack for Rosemary's Baby (1968)—her voice complementing Atzmon's sad but lovely clarinet and accordion. Elsewhere, most notably on "All the Way to Montenegro" and "We Laugh," the band members join Tali Atzmon to contribute their own enthusiastic vocal refrains.

"In the Back Seat of a Yellow Cab" is wonderfully evocative—an intriguingly complex tune. By turns it's languid, intense, sprightly and romantic, terms that sum up the whole of The Tide Has Changed. This is a richly varied recording from one of the most exciting and intriguing bands in jazz; a classic in the making.


Track Listing: Dry Fear; The Tide Has Changed; And So Have We; Bolero At Sunrise; London to Gaza; We Lament; In the Back Seat of a Yellow Cab; All the Way to Montenegro; We Laugh.

Personnel: Gilad Atzmon: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, accordion, vocals; Frank Harrison: piano, electric piano, xylophone, vocals; Yaron Stavi: bass, vocals; Eddie Hick: drums, vocals; Tali Atzmon: vocals (1-3, 8, 9); Derek "The Draw" Hussey: Master of Ceremonies (1).

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: World Village | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Rejoice! I'm Dead!" CD/LP/Track Review Rejoice! I'm Dead!
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Blues and Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review Blues and Ballads
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 19, 2016
Read "Taylor Street" CD/LP/Track Review Taylor Street
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Red Nation "1"" CD/LP/Track Review Red Nation "1"
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "United" CD/LP/Track Review United
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: April 11, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!