First a timely angle as both guitarist Gilad Hekselman and bassist Joe Martin play the Vortex tonight (on this occasion with Jeff Ballard). The pair appear on the new Oded Lev-Ari album, the pianist/composer/arranger’s debut Threading to be released on 28 April.
Lev-Ari, above, arranged the recent and very different album Duchess featuring Boswell Sisters-like vintage harmony flavours from a fine vocal trio, and here he has assembled a chamber jazz ensemble that features an interestingly used bunch of players including clarinet star Anat Cohen, alto/soprano saxist Will Vinson and drummer Matt Wilson with vocal guests Alan Hampton and Jo Lawry and extra horns: bari player/bass clarinettist Brian Landrus and interesting trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis plus three cellists deepening the sound.
Nearly all of Lev-Ari’s own tunes, the leader on piano, recorded sumptuously by James Farber at New York studio Sear Sound over a couple days of late-May last year, the album opens with the Tel Aviv-born US-based former Bob Brookmeyer student’s title track and contains two versions of a very popular standard at the moment, ‘Goodbye’. (Did this trend start with Jasmine even though the song has been in circulation for decades as far back definitely as Music After Midnight?) This Gordon Jenkins tune is treated in a Chet-ian manner by Hampton the vocal version cropping up three tracks in and then again at the end featuring Anat Cohen with Hekselman doing the most beautiful high-register introduction to state the main melody. So again if you’re in east London tonight go hear Hekselman and Martin with big Jeff. Next time maybe Lev-Ari himself might make it. SG