Celebrating ten years of silliness, serious messages and stunning music-making, sax man Gilad Atzmon and The Orient House Ensemble present their seventh album, The Tide Has Changed.
Gilad’s Blockhead colleague Derek Hussey introduces the band against raucous cabaret antics in Dry Fear, which leads into a moody and mesmerising title-track. The image of a shimmering desert rises out of strummed piano strings and Gilad’s altissimo sax notes resolve into fast bebop lines, with his wife Tali’s airy vocals opening up a new astral sound for the band.
Individual voices have always been at the heart of the OHE and pianist Frank Harrison’s quiet introspection continues to hold its own here against Gilad’s boisterous bluster. Frank plays his raindrop-piano lines against the wails from Gilad’s sax and creates something sublime. In London to Gaza the piano is a fragile beauty that gathers so much momentum that Gilad has to play as if his life depends on it.
Young Lions drummer Eddie Hick has a tough challenge to replace master percussionist Asaf Sirkis on this album, but measures up well, playing with power and sensitivity. His military rolls are poignantly matched against Gilad’s woody clarinet and Yaron Stavi’s sweet-sounding bass on And So Have We.
Orchestrating all of this, Gilad continues to nurture the memory of Bird in one breath and be cheekily disruptive in the next. All the Way to Montenegro features the distorted radio sounds used in previous albums, but this time they’re more amusing than disquieting.
The Tide Has Changed sounds like Charlie Parker playing Arabic funk in a Weimar cabaret, egged on by The Blockheads. Roll on the next ten years.
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Saxophonist, composer, polemicist and wit Gilad Atzmon is currently celebrating 10 years with his eloquently entertaining world-jazz group, the Orient House Ensemble, and The Tide Has Changed seems to represent a mature yet still eager reflection on the story so far. It's a typically riotous mix of oompah music-hall cavortings, slurred-pitch Middle Eastern rhapsodising, luxuriously sensuous clarinet love-songs, and stormy collective blasts reminiscent of the 1960s John Coltrane quartet. The initially dolorous microtonal opening of the title track over Frank Harrison's strummed piano strings turns into an uptempo section of barked staccato sounds and swerving runs uncircled by Tali Atzmon's vocals, while Bolero at Sunrise for Atzmon's keening soprano sax is exactly what its title describes, and In the Back Seat of a Yellow Cab splices the versatile leader's accordion and bluesy alto sax with vocal clamours like a crowded party or the squawks of a channel-hopping radio. Atzmon's albums never quite catch the amiable ferocity of his live shows, but this one certainly expresses the Orient House motto: Relentlessly, we remind ourselves why we decided to make music in the first place. FOUR STARS --Guardian
The Israeli-born multi-instrumentalist marks a decade leading the Orient House Ensemble with this powerful blend of Middle Eastern cadences and unfettered jazz. The agitational spirit is undimmed, but a pensive undertow implies that the tide hasn't neccessarily changed for the better. Atzmon delivers time-bending alto-sax virtuosity on the title track, the introduction is dark-hued burlesque and there is a village dance finale. FOUR STARS --Financial Times
It s a typically riotous mix of oompah music-hall cavortings, slurred-pitch Middle Eastern rhapsodising, luxuriously sensuous clarinet love-songs, and stormy collective blasts reminiscent of the 1960s John Coltrane quartet. **** --John Fordham, Guardian
Where does Gilad Atzmon find the time?...This month he s behind the dreamlike Robert Wyatt collaboration For The Ghost Within and this blistering, beautiful set...a multicultural balm of Gilad to soothe all aching souls. --Andrew Male, MOJO