Monday, April 15, 2013

Yoron Israel - Visions (The Music of Stevie Wonder) (Ronja, 2012)

Melodic accessibility is the key to drummer Yoron Israel's jazz take on the music of Stevie Wonder. He is accompanied by Lance Bryant on tenor and soprano saxophone, Lazlo Gardony on piano and keyboards, Ron Mahdi on bass, Thaddius Horgath sits in on guitar and harmonica on a few tracks and Larry Roldand adds spoken word on a few tracks as well. The title track "Visions" is approached by the entire group setting a medium pace. Roland's spoken  lyrics are the centerpiece, but the music also moves through solid saxophone and bass sections. "Contusion" has sparse shaken percussion with spacey electronics to begin. Bryant's saxophone perks up the proceedings with help from some electric piano and bass. This was an interesting suite like performance which ran through sections of dreamy melody and tough improvisation. Israel makes his mark here, hooking up with Bryant for some jagged improvisation. One of Wonder's radio hits, "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" develops a mid-tempo melodic approach to match the lyrical content. Stevie Wonder's music has long been an inspiration to jazz musicians, particularly of late with the SF Jazz Collective devoting a full season and multi-disc set to his music. This is worth checking out for Stevie Wonder fans and those who appreciate melodic mainstream jazz. Visions: Music of Stevie Wonder -

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