Sunday, June 09, 2013

Uri Gurvich - BabEl (Tzadik, 2013)

An award winning saxophonist who emigrated to the United States from Israel, Uri Gurvich gained traction on the jazz scene through his well received debut album, The Storyteller. On this followup, he is accompanied by Brahim Fribgane on oud and percussion, Leo Genovese on piano and keyboards, Francisco Mela on drums and percussion and Peter Slavov on bass. This album mixes modern jazz with Middle Eastern influences and Gurich's saxophone has an appealing taught acidity, somewhat akin to Jackie McLean. This tone comes through well on the darkly swinging "Dervish Dance" where the mood is echoed by Mela's shimmering cymbals. "Nedudim" features oud and piano working together to support the saxophone, bass and drum unit. The music shifts to develop a different texture when Genovese moves to organ from piano. By turn his piano is dark and foreboding on "Alfombra Magica" building a ballad pace that works as a foundation for Gurich's emotionally wrought solo. The lonely feel continues on "Scalerica de Oro" with saxophone and guitar providing an exotic feel over slowly building percussion. Fribgane builds the place with stronger string playing as the music builds and the musicians develop chants and intonations that sound like a sacred ritual from a bygone time. "Hagiga Suite" feature the leaders saxophone over piano, bass and drum accompaniment. Genovese weaves in melodic accents as the music develops and builds. Well played drums and hand percussion add an interesting development to "Camelao" as the music climbs to a peak and then is slowly drawn down to a fine conclusion. This album worked quite well, the addition of to oud rather than guitar gave the music a different taste, which worked well in conjunction with the remainder of the band and Gurvich's penetrating saxophone tone, making for a well paced set of music. Babel -

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