25 January 2013

Three gigs later

Three Bennett’s Lane gigs; three very different styles. Tal Cohen was hard swung, take no prisoners, energetic modern jazz. Lots of fast walks, lots of busy solos of impressive virtuosity.

I arrived just a little late but caught most of the first set and all the second. These must have been long takes, because I only noticed about 4 tunes per set. There were a few originals from Tal, presumably from his recent CD with Ari Hoenig. One was called Bird (in Hebrew) and was either traditional or a take on it, but was clearly Jewish music. It reminded me of Klezmer, but that’s just one style, that of the Ashkenazy Jews of Eastern Europe. This one still had that jaunty melodic sense and bouncing rhythms with dense polyrhythms. Mostly, though, this was swinging hard. Another was called Decision (again in Hebrew) and spoke of the moment of decision in any musician’s life when s/he decides for jazz rather than car sales or real estate (Tal’s humourous alternatives). This one was an odd composition of slow starts and changing styles that seemed to fit bouts of indecision. There were several covers, too. Take the Coltrane was an all-out blues bash. Tal did a piano solo on Body & soul that started with what seemed to be free improv then revealed the melody and finally changed to an extended two-chord improve to the end. The favourite of my night was a lovely rendition of the Nearness of you. It’s a wonderful tune and it stayed in my head and I listened to Sinatra and Sarah Vaughn and several other YouTube takes after returning to our unit. The rhythm section here was appropriately reserved. Julien was an emotional powerhouse, sometimes blaring notes with passion, other times splintering the melody with screeds of notes, always harmonically crystal clear. Tal was similarly bountiful, but of course he can’t bleat and scream and cajole like a horn. One line was so extended that I noticed Julien glancing with a grin. Other lines had delightful blues touches and some were classically perfect twisted phrases, although I missed some connections to changes. Tal was obviously enjoying the night and Julien was a stunning partner. So was Nick Abbey, over from WA and a bass teacher seat at UWA. For the first set I heard strong, young fingers giving powerful tone and punchy walks. But he also took several solos in the second set. As one was passed from Tal, I wondered how bass could follow the exuberant piano, only to admire the way he slowed the action, took control and rebuilt to a powerful bass solo with strong rhythmic sense and nice play with octaves and pitch. He played several other solos and I admired them all. Calm, even steely, Nick is a wonderfully competent sideman. Jacob was also over from WA, all eyes and ears for Tal and fast and easy on solos. Tal Cohen (piano) led a hard swinging quartet at Bennett’s Lane with Julien Wilson (tenor), Nick Abbey (bass) and Jacob Evans (drums).

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