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Oded Tzur: Translator's Note

Karl Ackermann By

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Translator's Note is an outstanding release from the Tel Aviv native, now New York-based tenor saxophonist Oded Tzur. As he did on his debut outing Like a Great River (Enja Records, 2016), Tzur merges jazz and elements of Indian music. Rather than playing the two styles off each other, he finds the common ground between the two and creates an organic hybrid that plays to what he envisions as their natural powers.

The debut quartet is still intact here with Israeli pianist Shai Maestro, Greek bassist Petros Klampanis and drummer Ziv Ravitz, another Israeli native. Maestro has played with a number of well-known jazz artists including Jorge Rossy, John Patitucci and Scott Colley. Klampanis has the other deep resume having worked with Greg Osby and Jean-Michael Pilc. Despite their youth, this quartet is excellently harmonized, playing with confidence and empathy.

At almost thirteen minutes, the opening "Single Mother" takes its time building and then rises and falls away in waves of beautiful sound. Maestro and Tzur stand out with solid improvisations. "Welcome" is a fine example of Tzur's melding of influences as he takes up a Middle Eastern motif while Maestro shapes a hard bop potboiler. Similarly, "The Three Statements Of Garab Dorje" initially plays out with exotic Eastern flavors but over the course of nearly ten minutes, the piece almost imperceptibly takes on mostly modern jazz properties before drifting back to its original theme.

Translator's Note closes with a cover of John Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament," the sole piece not composed by Tzur and—perhaps surprisingly—the least impactful track in the collection. That says a great deal about the saxophonist's own writing and arranging, for this is one of the best albums of the year, to date. Maestro, Ravitz and Klampanis are more than support here—their individual contributions frequently stand out as integral to the integrity of this fine album.

Track Listing: Single Mother; Welcome; The Whale Song, The Three Statements of Garab Dorje; Lonnie's Lament.

Personnel: Oded Tzur: tenor saxophone; Shai Maestro: piano; Petros Klampanis: bass; Ziv Ravitz: drums.

Title: Translator's Note | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: ENJA - Yellowbird


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