Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ari Hoenig - Lines of Opression (Naive/AH-HA, 2011)

Drummer Ari Hoenig has played in a number of jazz bands, especially on the Small’s scene in New York City, as well as released a few albums as a leader. On this album he is accompanied by Tigran Hamayan on piano and beat box, Gilad Hekselman on guitar and Orlando Le Fleming and Chris Tordini on bass. The group pays crisp, clear and accessible modern jazz that occasionally flirts with hip-hop or progressive rock, but stays true to its post-bop heritage. The empathy between Hamayan’s piano and Hoenig’s drums and percussion were particularly impressive, and the key to the album’s success. Tracks like “Ephemeral Eyes” and the standard “How High the Moon” bear this out, where the interplay between the two instruments is nearly at a telepathic level and it lifts the music to a higher plane. The group plays very well at speed, not flashy or show-offy, but confident in their abilities to negotiate any tempo, like they do on their version of Thelonious Monk’s “Rhythm-A-Ning,” which emerges from a drum and scat solo from the leader called “Ryhthm.” They band performs the intricate Monk standard at breakneck speed, making for an exhilarating performance. Hoenig takes to the brushes for the albums two slow ballads, “Wedding Song,” which is quiet and gentle and accompanied by wordless vocalizing and “Love's Feathered Nails” which features lush piano, silky brushes and shards of guitar. This was quite an impressive album that drew upon classic post bop jazz as well as more modern influences to create a cohesive whole. Lines of Oppression -

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