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Album Review

Yotam Silberstein: Universos

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Yotam Silberstein: Universos
Universos is a trio album featuring Yotam Silberstein on guitar, accordionist and pianist Vitor Gonçalves, with drummer Daniel Dor, plus special guests. It is a balance of Silberstein co-ordinating joyful Latin wellbeing and moderated contentment, an acknowledgment of the wonderful and exalted beings and moments that make him, and us, grateful to be alive. Never boring, Universos is accessible, erudite and easy-going and a great album to support good vibes during festivities of all kinds. As mood makers go, Universos may help level winter chills, inside or out.

One can amicably suggest that Yotam Silberstein has been arriving for a long time, and it is high time more people realized he is already here. With Bandcamp, Spotify, Soundcloud, iTunes (other music apps are also available), there must be an easy way...right? Get thee to the socials, use them for good: Silberstein's music rochas jazz hard and his band combines cultures through musical alchemy.

Searching for a glint of positivism and a sound that is true in the jazz world is not as drawn out a task as toppling a carte blanche despot warmonger. Silberstein seems to be a rock in a stormy place. His music is full of ease and unaffected composure, formulating lines of sound from a deeper sanctum of musical delights that are not of this time, yet remain timeless and new. Silberstein encapsulates the jazz epitome.

Recently, having lost too soon the phenom Joey DeFrancesco, and before that, Michel Petrucciani, caliber musicians who cemented the foundations for giant jazz movements to resist destruction, it is heartening to know that there is a body of players who are exploring similar ground, developing musical identities that explore music akin to ensembles that included the aforementioned artists, including the guitarist Bireli Lagrene, and that also support global musical exchanges through the extending arms of cultures as diverse as Brazil, Israel, Argentina and Switzerland via an American base, that is how new generations of jazz stay alive.

As for the special guests, Itai Kriss is a flutist fantastique, as dynamic as Buddy Collette. If one doesn't know so, the Kriss' album The Shark, (Avenue K Records, 2011) is a good place to start, a veritable "Get up" b'tutti shaker. Gregoire Maret is a discrete maestro who has taken the humble harmonica to jazz virtuosic levels, playing with Herbie Hancock, Toots Thielemans and Romain Collin, and Carlos Aguirre, whose "Milongo Gris" from his album Caminos, (Shagrada Medra, 2006), is a composition worthy of a place in Argentinian music history.

Album breakdown: "Brooklyn Frevo" is a spritely inspiration, based on the northeast Brazilian frevo rhythm, featuring Valerio Filho on pandeiro. It is light and happier than a shiny, perfect Brazilian. Kriss plays the right side of softly and shrill, and Silberstein's unison playing is synchronistic smiles. "Dada," dedicated to drummer and percussionist Daniel Dor, is a subtle and sensitive contemplation, with moments of dizzying euphoria; bliss with sticks—an opportunity to hear Silberstein ring out and let his band do the complimenting. "Samba Pro Vitor," a homage to band mate Vitor Gonçalves, is based on a samba, with a bewitching, pacey melody to woo new fans to Brazilian culture. One nod, of a few, to Antonio Carlos Jobim, it is catchy and compelling. "Requiem for Armando" insists on thoughtfulness, and does so with beauty, fragility and sadness. It's a sincere dedication to two of Silberstein's heroes, the Argentinian footballer Diego Maradona, and yet another jazz legend who left us, Chick Corea; both of whom passed during the Covid pandemic.

"Etude #2," based on a merengue rhythm from Venezuela, is a tune for pulling serious dancing shoes out of hibernation. "Parana (Entre Rios)," named after a city in Argentina, is a homage to Carlos Aguirre, inspired by the traditional chamamé rhythm highly popular in the Argentinian province Entre Rios. Almost a solo song by Silberstein, with a highly supportive band and a gentle yet serious composition. "Candombe para Ruben Rada" inspired by the legendary Omár Rubén "Negro" Rada Silva, who popularized the candombe by blending traditional rhythms played on Uruguyan tamboriles drums, with rock, pop and jazz is the closest here to a Bob James composition and is essentially a generous offering of upbeat fun, what's not to like? "Chorão," a celebration of Brazilian choro, and a warm feature for Silberstein to sing out, with a tender Jobim essence, is an exquisite accordion feature a tango step away from the sound of Astor Piazzolla, and a whispering flute from Kriss whose sound is as light a touch as a breeze on a Brazilian beach. A choro with a helping of the innocent beauty of "Águas de Março." "Safta," a moving waltz in memory of Silberstein's grandmother who died aged 96, is a nostalgic duo with Vitor Gonçalves that feels as emotional as a Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden cinematic score. "A Night in Sevilla" validates a friendship between Silberstein and Sevillian guitarist Dani de Morón. Silberstein has a particular attachment to the flamenco tradition and a feel for the style that shows gravitas and respectful appreciation. The song "Tal and Gil," dedicated to Silberstein's sons is a charming lullaby to melt hearts with an extra dose of paternal awe effortlessly and emotionally conveyed by Grégoire Maret.

A perfect accent to purlicue; Silberstein has a stellar band and a refreshing turn of phrase, Universos will add a little extra warmth to winter's austerity.

Track Listing

Brooklyn Frevo; Dada; Samba pro Vitor; Requiem for Amando; Etude #2 (merengue); Parana (Entre Rios); Candombe para Ruben Rada; Chorão; Safta; A Night in Sevilla; Tal and Gil.

Personnel

Yotam Silberstein: guitar; Itai Kriss: flute; Gregoire Maret: harmonica; Vitor Gonçalves: accordion; Daniel Dor: drums; Carlos Aguirre: percussion; Valerio Filho: pandeiro.

Album information

Title: Universos | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Jazz and People

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