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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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GILAD ATZMON

In Loving Memory of America

Enja TIP 888 850 2

 

 

1. Everything Happens to Me
2. If I Should Lose You
3. musiK
4. What Is This Thing Called Love?
5. Call Me Stupid, Ungrateful, Vicious and Insatiable
6. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
7. In The Small Hours
8. Tu Tu Tango
9. April In Paris
10. In Loving Memory Of America
11. Refuge
 
 
Gilad Atzmon - Saxophones, clarinet
Frank Harrison - Piano, Fender Rhodes
Yaron Stavi - Double bass, electric bass
Asaf Sirkis - Drums
Sigamos String Quartet: Ros Stephen, Emil Chakalov - Violins, Rachel Robson - Viola, Daisy Vatalaro - Cello

 

 

Gilad Atzmon has always been a surprising player, whether he is coming out with biting humour, fierce political opinions or equally fierce sax playing. In a sense, this album is just as surprising, as much  of it presents Gilad in an unexpectedly serene mood, accompanied by a string quartet as well as his usual jazz rhythm section. The album is a sort of tribute to Charlie Parker and the recordings that Charlie made with strings, although Parker played with a full string orchestra, not just a quartet.

Gilad performs April in Paris very much in Charlie Parker's style. It is a track that he heard on a Parker disc when Gilad was 17 and about to enlist in the Israeli army. He bought all the Parker albums he could find and fell in love with the altoist, with jazz and with America. For a long time Atzmon regarded the USA as his "promised land", because it was the birthplace of jazz. Now Gilad is disabused of his idealistic feelings about America, which "is not exactly a free place any more".  But the CD reflects his former vision of America and the love he once conceived for it and its music.

This lost love is expressed through some poignant interpretations of such standards as Everything Happens to Me and I Didn't Know What Time It Was, with Atzmon's alto sax weaving attractive improvisations over the background of strings. The five jazz standards he plays are all on the Charlie Parker With Strings album.

Although he performs these tunes with gentle lyricism, Gilad hasn't lost his desire to surprise and even shock.  The six numbers he wrote himself have a harder edge than those inspired by the Parker album. The title-track is a noisy montage of street sounds, voices and a swirling saxophone. Tutu Tango is hardly a joyful tango but a rather dismal piece which, even when it adopts a tango rhythm, sounds threatening rather than blithe. It actually reminds me a bit of the depressing effect of the film Last Tango in Paris. Refuge starts with a Middle-Eastern atmosphere with threatening undertones but turns into a joyful dance to African rhythms. Even his version of What Is This Thing Called Love? has unsettling harmonies from the strings, and If I Should Lose You wanders disturbingly through a military drumbeat and ominous chords from the piano and strings.

Thus Gilad Atzmon continues to surprise us, with an album title loaded with irony and a mixture of the upbeat and the downbeat. But it holds your attention because its conflicting moods come straight from Gilad's heart. He reminds us that jazz was once a revolutionary music - and could be again.


Tony Augarde



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