Home » Jazz Articles » Noam Lemish: Twelve


Album Review

Noam Lemish: Twelve


Sign in to view read count
Noam Lemish: Twelve
The number Twelve has several explicit meanings on Israeli-born composer/pianist Noam Lemish's eighth album as leader of his own ensemble, which is twelve members strong (well, thirteen on the first two numbers, on which Laura Swankey adds wordless vocals, and twenty-five if one counts the thirteen-member chorus on Track 3). Returning to the basic premise, Lemish composed his first piece of music at age twelve, and it has been twelve years since he relocated from San Francisco to Toronto, Canada. And the recording comprises twelve numbers when multiplied by two (okay, that is stretching things a bit).

Sizing up the half-dozen numbers on offer, all save one ("Steals on Steeles") plays for eleven minutes or more. "Steals," the album's jazziest theme, includes assertive solos by trombonist Karl Silveira and trumpeter Kevin Turcotte. Elsewhere, Lemish displays his eclectic nature, using classical, Yiddish, Soviet-Jewish and assorted other folk influences to underlne his purpose. Classical has the upper hand on "Beethoven's 7th Visit to Romania," wherein Lemish borrows heavily from the second movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. The chorus helps chart the melodic course while trumpeter Jim Lewis and tenor saxophonist Kelly Jefferson improvise. It's an interesting excursion that certainly has its colorful avenues, but after thirteen minutes, the feeling here is that Ludwig may have slightly overstayed his welcome.

The studio date opens gently with the lovely tone poem "Song for Lia," written to salute the birth of Lemish's niece (brisk solos by alto Allison Au and guitarist Ted Quinlan) and continues with "The Nagila Mayster," a newly-minted English/Hebrew/Yiddish construct whose proximate meaning is "Master of Joyfulness" and whose sunny theme is introduced by vibraphonist Michael Davidson, with help from the ensemble. "Beethoven's Visit" is followed by "Steals," the earnest, dual-shaped "Between Utopia and Destruction" and enheartening "Rebirth." Lemish and Jefferson (soprano) are the soloists on "Utopia," Quinlan, Davidson, Turcotte, Au, tenor Mike Murley and drummer Derek Gray on "Rebirth." The rhythm section (Quinlan, Gray, bassist Justin Gray) plays its part well, readily adapting to Lemish's variations in tone and tempo.

This is music with ample meat on its bones, six elaborate yet persuasive motifs whose pathways should be traversed more than once to earn one's understanding and appreciation. Lemish has certainly done his part; the final verdict, as the saying goes, lies in the eye (or in this case, the ears) of the beholder.

Track Listing

Song for Lia; The Nagila Mayster; Beethoven’s 7th Visit to Romania; Steals on Steeles; Between Utopia and Destruction; Rebirth.


Noam Lemish: piano; Terry Promane: trombone; Kevin Turcotte: trumpet; Jim Lewis: trombone; Allison Au: saxophone, alto; Kelly Jefferson: saxophone, tenor; Mike Murley: saxophone; Karl Silveira: trombone; William Carn: trombone; Ted Quinlan: guitar; Michael Davidson: vibraphone; Justin Gray: bass, electric; Derek Gray: drums; Laura Swankey: voice / vocals.

Album information

Title: Twelve | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Alive at the Village Vanguard
Fred Hersch & Esperanza Spalding
Rodney Whitaker
Invisible Resistances
Izumi Kimura & Cora Venus Lunny


Francesca Han & Ralph Alessi
Baker's Dozen
The Muffins
Blues & Bach: The Music Of John Lewis
Enrico Pieranunzi Trio & Orchestra
The Border
Douwe Eisenga

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.