The evolution of improvisational music takes a giant leap forward with Independence from Nir Naaman! Stellar!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
If jazz is dead than Nir Naaman never got the memo and good thing! Debut releases are stereotypically phoned in, contain the expected number of standards and serve as sort of a lyrical business card for an aspiring artist. Nir Naaman contributes seven forward thinking originals embracing his own cultural heritage while keeping one foot in the somewhat more traditional western improvisational setting. A household name? No, Naaman is a new shooter on the scene but with a band that features pianist George Cables ( also serving as producer) along with drummer Gregory Hutchinson, bassist Dezron Douglas and ace trumpet player Marcus Printup then this all star collective should put to rest any potential issues of "credibility."
Nir Naaman is an instrumental triple threat, equally skilled on alto, soprano as well as tenor saxophone. The original compositions are dynamic and the subtle hybrid of his Middle Eastern background as well as a resume that includes working with artists such as Terri Lynne Carrington and Dave Samuels mix incredibly well. Meters are mixed, dynamics shifted while a firm and full tone are an emotive voice that works each composition to a new melodic place. Naaman is a lyrical ninja. This is a collective by definition as each original is allowing all participants to chart their own harmonic path of least resistance. The tenor skills of Naaman are simply outrageous on "Ohali Blues" while the more introspective riff on "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" is a dream duet featuring pianist and producer George Cables. Additional contributions from Roy Assad and Ulysses Owens Jr. are also noteworthy!
Variety, texture and a subtle groove of what is ahead for modern jazz would seem to be the calling card for Independence. The lyrical soprano work and emotive intensity of "Winter Sun" speaks well for the future of Nir Naaman. One of the best debuts for 2014!
Tracks: Ohali Blues; Dream; Eshal Elohai / Shalom Shabazi; The Very Thought Of You; Dilemma; Fall; Winter Sun; Independence; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; New Orleans Twist.
Personnel: Nir Naaman: Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophones; Marcus Printup: Trumpet (1,8,10); George Cables: Piano (1,3,5,6,8,9,10); Roy Assaf: Piano (2,4,7); Dezron Douglas: Bass; Gregory Hutchinson: Drums (1,3,5,8,10); Ulysses Owens Jr.: Drums (2,4,6,7)
Photo Credit: Sarma Ozois