I am surprised that there is no review of this superb album. I have been a "devotee" of Gilad Atzmon since the inception of "the Orient House Ensemble" although I had heard him before e.g. with Tim Richard's "Great Spirit".
The OHE was created with two young British musicians, the excellent pianist Frank Harrison and bass player Oli Hayhurst, and two Israeli "exiles" (now British residents), Atzmon as leader, and master drummer Asaf Sirkis. Atzmon's main instrument is the alto, but he plays tenor, soprano and clarinet too.
Although Atzmon originally played pretty straight forward bebop, with the advent of OHE his music of this period (1999 - 2004) became heavily Middle Eastern in flavour.
This is the second OHE album (2001) features what are on the face of it well known popular songs or jazz standards. Typical of this period is "20th Century" which combines elements of "It Ain't Necessarily So", "Caravan" and "Mack The Knife". The rhythm keeps changing and there is fascinating interplay between the four musicians (and two guests). If you think that you could predict the sound of, say, "Singing In The Rain" or "Petite Fleur" you will be wrong. Atzmon's approach to every number on this album, whether it is a "standard" or an "original" is unique.
It is always best to experience OHE live (as I did only last weekend; May 2014), but recordings are very good. This album, which I've owned since its original release, is just as exciting, just as engaging, just as enjoyable as when I first bought it.
If you haven't encountered OHE (and I am discovering people who haven't) this is perfect first album. 100% wonderful.