THE MANY FACETS of contemporary jazz surprise and delight with their rich diversity; often the music can be groundbreaking, challenging, even abstruse. But once in a while, an artist shines with the unalloyed beauty, accessibility and blitheness of their approach.
Tel-Aviv-based pianist/composer Ari Erev’s third album completes a trilogy of themed releases. Following albums About Time and A Handful of Changes, new recording Flow explores the idea, as Erev explains, that “music consists of numerous different streams that have the same general direction and – especially with improvisation – never exactly repeat themselves”; another analogy is the “state of mind during which one is immersed in a continuous act of doing something, such as learning or creating, usually without even noticing the passage of time.”
Joining him throughout this session of mostly original compositions are Eli Magen (double bass) and Ron Almog (drums), whilst also adding to the Latin fervour of a number of tracks are soprano saxophonist Yuval Cohen (brother of trumpeter Avishai) and percussionist Gilad Dobrecky. Erev cites Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba as an early influence, and his lyrical ways with melody and rhythm seem charmingly imbued with the festal expressions and strong musical identities of, say, Mexico, the Caribbean and South Africa.
Sunshiny samba tune Playful Moments is typical of the album’s relaxed vein, as Yuval Cohen’s soprano sax brightly expounds on Erev’s compositional mastery; and Jumping in the Water‘s memorable, chromatically-descending melodies possess a quiet sophistication – a fine, sonorous groove from Erev and bassist Magen, illuminated by Dobrecky’s glistening percussion. In trio format, the pianist’s writing is at least as inviting – gently-waltzing title track Flow pictorialises the album art/theme so clearly, and the subtle, tripping audacity of Erev’s modal explorations are a joy.
Amongst the pleasant fluidity of such tracks, it’s these details which catch the ear. What the Heart Sees resembles a much-loved standard, with Erev and Cohen each elaborating on its gently balladic melody; the delicate instrumental interplay in Debora Gurgel’s Domingo, across six minutes, is exquisite (Magen’s buoyant, cantabile momentum a noticeable feature); and the soprano tune in Treasures in Havana‘s cool, lilting, Cuban bossa is just as easily imaginable with tender, vocalised lyrics.
Latin Currents swirls and eddies excitedly to its vibrant sax and percussion animation; unexpectedly Mexican-tinged Gan Ha-Shikmim (The Sycamore Garden) – an old Israeli song – finds Erev as eloquent as ever in lush chordal sequences and whispy, high piano extemporisation; Continuance‘s bouncing, unison piano-and-bass riffs are airily optimistic; and the clarity of Erev’s arrangement of Fred Hersch’s Endless Stars, which closes the album, encapsulates the convivial atmospheres to be found across these sixty-eight minutes of joyous music.
Flow certainly seems to catch the summertime mood with finesse. Available as a digital download from Bandcamp and iTunes, or as CD from Amazon, CD Baby, etc.
Ari Erev piano
Eli Magen double bass
Ron Almog drums
Yuval Cohen soprano sax (tracks 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10)
Gilad Dobrecky percussion (tracks 1, 3, 5 and 10)
Acum – 889211-66857-1 (2016)