Jazz CD Reviews
Yotam – Resonance – Jazz Legacy Productions
Published on June 1, 2010
Yotam – Resonance – Jazz Legacy Productions JLP 1001008, 66:56 ****:
(Yotam Silberstein – guitar, voice, goud; Aaron Goldberg – piano; Christian McBride – bass; Gregory Hutchinson – drums; Roy Hargrove – trumpet (tracks 4 & 10))
Many young jazz guitarists gravitate toward rockier terrain, swayed by and sometimes replicating players such as Pat Metheny or John Scofield. So it is refreshing to hear Israeli-educated and New York City-based Yotam (full name Yotam Silberstein) on a program that emphasizes bebop, Brazilian roots, Jamaican-tinted elements and Israeli folk shadings.
Resonance is Yotam’s third album as leader and his Jazz Legacy Productions debut. The 66-minute excursion is steeped in tradition, from jazz standards like John Lewis’ “Two Bass Hit” and Joe Henderson’s “Mamacita” to likeminded originals with a dream team that gives the material a stellar acclivity. How about this lineup: pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Gregory Hutchinson and special guest Roy Hargrove on trumpet?
Yotam and his boundless group commence with a hard swinging interpretation of “Two Bass Hit” that overflows with ace musicianship. During his furiously-paced solo Yotam not only reveals a facility well beyond his years but also wittily slips in quotes from Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca” and “Ooo Bop-Sh-Bam.” Goldberg showcases a crisp, rhythmically driving keyboard execution; McBride includes a quickly moving bowed bass solo; and before the conclusion Hutchinson exhibits why he is in such demand as an extemporaneous drummer.
Another outstanding cover is Clifford Brown’s “Daahoud,” one of two numbers that add Hargrove. It is another fast-stepped bop translation that features more of Yotam’s clean fretboard runs that Tal Farlow or Barney Kessel fans should appreciate. Hargrove’s solo is a colorful contribution that highlights his bop background.
Resonance, however, is more than a brisk bop-oriented outing. Yotam has spent time in Monty Alexander’s band and pays homage to his mentor and friend with a grooving version of Alexander’s Jamaican-flavored “Renewal,” accented by Hutchinson’s reggae beat, McBride’s topflight bass and Yotam’s Wes Montgomery-slanted octave workout.
The most authoritative compositions, though, are those Yotam penned. “McDavid” is a lively bossa nova cut that demonstrates Yotam’s ongoing exploration of Latin jazz. While Yotam effects convincing Brazilian-imbued comping, Goldberg lays out a prime piano improvisation and McBride aficionados will want to scrutinize his Latin-ized solo: a real treat. On the longest piece, the assertively expansive “Bye Y’All,” Yotam continues in a Brazilian mode, utilizing the Brazilian rhythm style known as baiao.
Yotam is noted for introspective inclinations. The romantic minor key ballad “Merav” – inspired by Yotam’s girlfriend – discloses two of Yotam’s influences: Benny Golson (whom Yotam has performed with) and Clare Fischer. Goldberg offers a Fischer-ish solo while Yotam echoes Golson’s soulful mannerism. Although Yotam did not write the ode to passion “Fresh Love Song” (it’s a 1970s Israeli pop hit) he makes it all his own. Here, Yotam overdubs his guitar with a fretless, 11-string instrument he refers to as the goud, which furnishes an appropriately exotic undercurrent accentuated by Yotam’s ghostly vocalizations.
Yotam has developed rapidly as sideman, composer, leader and student of jazz history. He is not yet thirty but already has artists more than twice his age asking, “Who is that kid?” Listening to Resonance, it will not take long to discover why he has become someone to be aware of.
1. Two Bass Hit
6. The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Kindergarten)
7. Bye Ya’ll
9. Fresh Love Song (Bo’I Yalda)
— Doug Simpson