One of the most dynamic world music offerings over the last decade.
Brent Black / www.bop-n-jazz
As a critic I have taken considerable heat for my support of not only Jewish artists but those brave enough to play festivals in Israel while others have attempted to stifle not only their right to free expression but to share their gift with others in a venue of their choosing. That being said, Walk To The Sea from Odessa/Havana is a dazzling display of the unlimited potential of what world music has to offer.
While the band itself is composed of first call A list players that can swing their collective tails off there are two things that make this release work incredibly well. Jewish trumpet phenom David Buchbinder and Cuban pianist Hilario Duran play as though they are twin sons of different mothers. The musical counterpoint each offers is timely and lyrically intense. Simply put, swing hard or go home. When you consider the fusion of Jewish folk music into the mix and the addition of vocals that could pull back this high octane ensemble, the flow is simply adjusted so the dynamics work in a delicious symbiotic harmony with the melodic direction this formidable ensemble seems headed.
While the self titled debut was received to world wide critical acclaim, the sophomore release simply builds on the cultural foundation of what works. A more expansive approach including that Judeo-Spanish tradition that few performers fear to tread along with the expected form and functionality of the western influences we know as jazz. A mashup? No...A carefully constructed cross cultural hybrid that unlike releases that may border on a similar approach, this is a global swing with a righteous groove that moves seamlessly from one tune to the next.
Personnel: David Buchbinder: Trumpet; Flugelhorn; Hilario Duran: Piano; John Johnson: Clarinet, Tenor and Soprano Saxes, Alto Flute; Aleksandar Gajic: Violin, Viola; Roberto Occhipinti: Bass, Guitar (3); Mark Kelso: Drums, Bata, Percussion; Michael Cohen: Vocal (2); Maryem Hassan Tollar: Vocals (3,5,9); Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo: Congas, Dumbeq, Bata, Chekere (1-3, 7-9); Jamey Haddad: Riq, Frame Drum, Dumbeq (3-6); Bassam Bishara: Oud (3); Demetrios Petsalakis: Oud (5); Elmer Ferrer: Tres (4).