Thursday, October 11, 2012

Omer Avital - Suite of the East (Anzic, 2012)

Bassist and composer Omer Avital moved to New York City from Israel in the early 1990’s during the height of the “young lions” era. He was signed to Impulse, but dropped before releasing a full album. Undeterred, he became an integral part of the New York City jazz scene based around the club Smalls and recording for a variety of labels. On this album, the lineup is: Avishai Cohen on trumpet, Joel Frahm on tenor saxophone, Omer Klein on piano, Omer Avital on bass and Daniel Freedman on drums. Because of Avital’s compositions and arrangements, the band often seems bigger than it is, filling out space akin to a larger ensemble. “Free Forever” uses this larger sound to the groups advantage, developing an uptempo performance that is very colorful and dynamic, akin to Charles Mingus’s mid-sized ensembles. Several of the performances on this album are quite long and unfold slowly like flowers. “Suite of the East” develops an impressionistic palette that evolves over time, while “Song for Peace” has a swirling and exotic feel, developing lush and intricate full band passages. “The Mountain Top” features colorful piano and elastic bass and the song “Saini Memories” strips the group down to a piano, bass and drums trio for a haunted and melancholy performance. “The Abutbuls” swings back into a vibrant happier feel breaking into a rich uptempo vibe before Avital wraps things up with the ruminative “Bass Meditations.” Although there were some excellent individual spots, this album was more about the ensemble and the songs than about individual soloists. Songs that spooled out using color, texture and hue and were consistently interesting. Suite of the East -

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