on 27 January 2013
Jazz Fans I appeal to you all, if you have yet to travel the world according to Gilad Atzmon, I suggest you book your CD and sit back and be taken on a musical journey...
The Journey started off many years ago now, with his first album with the Orient House Ensemble, and many albums later he is still giving the listener music to fill your soul with joy, and sadness at the same time.
This album is full of the Classic Atzmon sounds that we as jazz fans have become to know and love. His use of Phrygian Modes I would have to say is the best controlled of any Sax Man on the Planet, and there are many to chose from. Gilad for me is up with the greats in the world of Jazz and I have seen a few. The likes of Courtney Pine at full flow, Tommy Smith at his majestic best, and I would also rate Gilad in the same sphere as Coltrane for the amount of passion you get in his playing.
For me Gilad is one of those unique of Jazz Men that can also put humour in his playing, and it does not sound out of place with the serious Jazz on this, or any of his previous albums.
The Atmzon for me is one of the best out there, and I would suggest that you get to see him LIVE, as he is not only a great musician, but his concerts are famous for being funny with serious moments. And the warmth of the man and his band shine through, and it has been a pleasure to see him several times and witness greatness.
Please take my advice, buy this CD and then get the others.
Then go and see him LIVE!!
This 2013 album finds the great 'adopted Brit’ Gilad Atzmon and his latest quartet incarnation – Frank Harrsion on keyboards, Yaron Stavi on double bass and Eddie Hick on drums – sounding at the top of their game as they interpret nine Atzmon compositions, each focusing on a different global metropolis. These 'songs’ provide a vibrant, variable mood mix of the ‘spiritual resistance’ (in Atzmon’s words) represented by each 'city’ and showcasing the diversity of, and the influences enshrined in, the man’s compositional skills.
An authentic mood is immediately created on album opener Paris on which, for such an understated and beautiful piece of music, redolent of the romanticism of the city, Atzmon turns in something of a virtuoso performance with (if I’m not mistaken) stunning playing on each of clarinet, accordion and soprano sax. And Frank Harrison’s piano playing here is a restrained foretaste of what is an outstanding contribution by the keyboards man to this Atzmon outing. Tel Aviv features a typically, vibrant soprano melody before switching into a more ambivalent – often sombre and yearning – mood, more in keeping with Atzmon’s 'tragic’ label for the piece (and city).
At the most 'commercial’ end of the sounds here (I would say) are the pairing of the 'sweet’ Vienna (featuring more delightful Harrison ivory tinkling) and the infectious rhythm of Manhattan – a tune which finds the band at their most 'jazz-funk like’, with Atzmon sounding like a 'hyper’ Wilton Felder. Similarly, his 'anonymous’ Italian city – whose light, dreamy qualities suggest to me probably southern, rather than northern, Italy – is another tune of immediate appeal.
Two of the album’s more 'serious’ (and, for me, most significant) moments can be found on Buenos Aires and Moscow, each opening in sombre mood with some beautiful playing by Harrison’s piano – the former’s solemnity being brilliantly accentuated by Yaron Stavi’s bowing double bass, whilst the latter has Harrison sounding (appropriately) akin to a Rachmaninov piano concerto. Then, in a similar (epic) vein, we have the album’s 'magnum opus’, Scarborough, the man’s 'Coltrane-like’ interpretation of the traditional song Scarborough Fair, on which the band reach 'cooking’ intensity (with Eddie Hick’s cymbal crashing even calling to my mind Elvin Jones) – this is about as close as I’ve heard Atzmon get to re-creating his amazing live presence on record.
In typical fashion, Atzmon concludes this outstanding recording with a lighter moment – the 'Cabaret-like’ oompah beat of Berlin, whose hedonistic appeal signifies his 'farewell to productivity’.
on 16 March 2014
As a relative latecomer to jazz, I have only begun to appreciate this form of music in recent years, and I had already acquired a three of Gilad Atzmon albums (including the rich musical collaboration with Robert Wyatt and Ros Stephen, For the Ghosts Within) before I ordered this one. Knowing some of his back catalogue, I anticipated that this would also be "rather good". Rather good is of course a complete understatement. The compositions on this album are all sublime with the culture essence of the various locations featured on the album exuding from every note and the musicianship throughout is first class. As others have already commented, there is no padding on this album. Every track is a gem.
I guess my personal favourite has to be Scarborough. That classic English folk tune which until now, I could not have imagined being improved upon any more than when it was recorded by Simon and Garfunkel. My opinion has now changed. Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble have created a stunning interpretation of the piece which again, as another reviewer has indicted, is even better live. It has early quiet moments evoking a dreamy English idyll but then builds up into a soaring tour de force of frenetic energy before finally returning to a state of serenity.
Moscow, as one might imagine is a serious and sombre composition, and Paris is full of romance and that certain je ne sais quoi. Berlin transports the listener to a lively bier-keller where the cabaret is in full swing and the mood....jovial. Tel Aviv and Buenos Aires...well they are hot as you might imagine with the South American capital offering more than a passing nod to Gershwin's Summertime and I am sure that George would have been flattered.
This is a sublime album and definitely worth splashing out on. But don't just listen to the studio tracks. Check the live music listings and look out for the Orient House Ensemble. I have had the great privilege recently of seeing the numbers on this album played live twice within the space of a week (once in London and again in Warwick) and I can assure you from personal experience, you will not regret going along yourself. Gilad Atzmon is a highly gifted musician playing with an extraordinarily talented band and his stories and jokes are not bad either!
In summary - buy the album, go see the band play live and then thank me.
on 1 November 2013
how can you "require" a response when it is voluntary?
I loved the music because the arrangements were original and well chosen. They brought back memories of Paris, Buenos Aires, Vienna,, NYC, Moscow, and Berlin.
the instrumental performances i found professional and delightful.