Sunday, September 07, 2014

Paul Shapiro - Shofarot Verses (Tzadik, 2014)

Saxophonist Paul Shapiro (comic strip bio: cool) has made a lively career on the New York City "downtown" jazz scene playing with the likes of Steven Bernstein, The Microscopic Septet and a range of funk and rhythm and blues outfits. He brings all of those sensibilities together on this album and combines them with the music of his Jewish heritage to make this very successful album. In addition to Shapiro on tenor, alto and soprano saxophones in addition to shofar, the group features Marc Ribot on guitar, Brad Jones on bass, and Tony Lewis on drums. The music is full of life as demonstrated on  "Get Me to The Shul on Time" where slamming drums lead the saxophone in to create an exotic feel. Shapiro sets up a nice groove, and Ribot contributes a typically excellent grinding guitar before the rhythm section breaks loose for a funky bass and drums interlude. They all return to the original melody before completing the song. "Surfin' Salami" opens with some dark, guttural saxophone entering into a deep strong full band improvisation full of sly humor as the song's name would imply. Ribot has a great opportunity to craft a slinky, grinding guitar solo filled with down and dirty goodness before another excellent short bass and drums interlude takes us back to the top. "Search Your Soul" changes to the pace to a slower and deeper feel, perfect for Ribot to add a bluesy rhythm and blues sensibility to the proceedings. Shapiro really digs into a feeing of dark streets filled with late night longing and pathos. The shift back into a higher gear on "Halil" with an urgent opening of Shapiro on saxophone and the remainder of the group hot on his heels. The msuic comes in waves, rising and falling like the sea and totally in the moment with all of the players locked in together in a common cause. Sections for gritty guitar and drums bubble up before the group hints at the melody once more before signing off. Highly recommended. Shofarot Verses -

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