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Like his debut, Remember (Anova, 2010), this sophomore release from Yair Yona still features the Israeli as a guitarist paying his debts to the American Primitive and British finger-picking traditions. But the ambitious World Behind Curtains focuses, first and foremost, on Yona the composer. His compositions for an acoustic chamber ensemble move the finger-picking schools into new timeless avenues, spicing the folksy melodies with motives from jazz, Middle-Eastern scales and post-rock.
Yona's eight short compositions tell an exquisite and rich story nuanced by his sympathetic musicians. The opening "Expatriates" seize the escapist zeitgeist of a young Israeli generation, and Yona cleverly distorts this yearning with gentle use of electric feedback. The lyrical "It's Not The Heat (It's The Humidity)" references one of Yona greatest inspirationsBert Jansch and the Scottish guitarist's Avocet (Charisma, 1979) in particularbut its arrangement for string quartet sounds equally informed by Ralph Towner's writing.
Yona's tribute to American guitarist Glenn Jones, "This One's For You, Glenn," possesses one of the labum's most beautiful melodies. The addition of Idit Mintzer's French horn and arranger Erez Kariel's glockenspieland, later, electric guitarintensifies this haunting poetic melody. "Kottke and the Orchids" refers to one of the seminal recordings of American guitarist Leo Kottke, Greenhouse (Capitol, 1972), and here Yona succeeds in recapturing Kottke's "choir of guitars" sound.
The passionate "Mad About You" is inspired by a true love story for someone who "can drive you crazy," and tells a detailed story with many surprising and energetic turns. The evocative and cinematic "Miss Fortune (Kaiser's Eyes)" follows, with electric guitar and string quartet enriching the story narrated by acoustic guitar. "Poetry Night In Valhalla" references American guitarist Robbie Basho's influential Falconer Arm (Takoma, 1967), with similar reliance on Eastern scales. "Bella," the closing duet with Yona's mother, pianist Tamar, is a touching lullaby, borrowing a tuning from blues guitarist Kelly Joe Phelps.
A mature and beautiful album.
Track Listing: Expatriates; It's Not The Heat (It's The Humidity); This One's For You, Glenn; Kottke And The Orchids; Mad About You; Miss Fortune (Kaiser's Eyes); Poetry Nights In Valhalla; Bella.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.