Saturday, March 12, 2011

Yaron Herman Trio - Follow the White Rabbit (ACT, 2011)

The amount of young jazz talent flowing for Israel to Europe and America in the past few years has been amazing, and you can add pianist and composer Yaron Herman's name to that growing list of superb cross-cultural composers and improvisers. On this album, he performs in a trio setting with Chris Tordini on bass and Tommy Crane on drums. The group works together very well as an organic unit, performing as a solid trio, nearing the EST aesthetic of enjoyable trio interaction on the uptempo numbers and mellow melodicism on ballads. Much like a couple of other famous jazz trios, The Bad Plus and the Brad Mehldau Trio, they take some time to explore modern pop material. This album features a moody and fascinating re-imagination of Nirvana's grunge anthem "Heart Shaped Box" and ends with the jazz community's favorite rock band Radiohead on a brief version of "No Surprises." As interesting as these covers are, the band shines particularly well on its original compositions, particularly "Saturn Returns" which develops into a full blooded improvisation with all three instruments taking on percussive qualities as the drive the music relentlessly forward. "Airlines" develops a complex melody with cymbal accents and quicksilver piano to good effect. They slow the pace to a heartfelt crawl with the ballads "Ein Gedi" and "Baby Mine" which feature tasteful and discreet piano and brushwork. This album was successful and enjoyable, the band draws on various resources and reshapes and molds them to their own purposes to achieve a unique and accessible sound. Follow the White Rabbit -

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