Nitai Levi - bass clarinet
Shai Ran - double bass
Haim Peskoff - drums
OutNow Recordings 2011
I've already expressed my admiration for Yoni Kretmzer's playing as I've written about his 2Bass Quartet "Weight" cd. "Overlook" is a previous release, equally worth of attention, even more so as it presents three other musicians from a vital Tel Aviv scene (fresh after the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow I'm still impressed with how diversified and rich is Israel's musical scene).
Kretzmer's full-bodied tenor sax is as exciting as on "Weight", his energizing and ferocious playing is nicely balanced by the elegant tone of bass clarinet played by Nitai Levi (sometimes the roles get reversed, other times assimilated into one). The duality of the frontline is one of the most inspiring aspects of the music, the timbral diversity of the horns reveals intricant layers of Kretzmer melodic compositions.
"Overlook" features nine songs, all composed by quartet's leader. All filled with beautifull melodies, and spirited playing. A great combination of structure and freedom.
Take "Trauma" which features the heavy drumbeat, hard struck bas chords and mad saxophone wails in the first half, countered by the abstract arco double bass - bass clarinet duo in the latter part of the piece. As the quartet comes back together, from the eerie whispers soft and gentle melody emerges to finish the track. The melodic codas are present on more tracks of the album, as Kretzmer's sense of form and direction leas from cycles of deconstruction towards construction.
"Broken Parts" is just another example, as after many frenetic turmoils it ends with a charming dual melody played by the frontline (a minimalistic chords that appear between the circular lines create a groovy base for a soulfull bass clarinet solo, before the final melody).
Yoni Kretzmer's passionate playing is rooted in the 60s free jazz music, but his huge tone is a direct descendant of Ben Webster (you can check "Mixing and Mixing" bluesy intro, where the soulfull sax lines are countered by pizzicato bass and low clarinet bass howls). As the solemn melody rises slowly, drums break a fast beat with a surprising funky twist. A short melodic coda once again ends the piece.
"Your Morning" ends the cd with delicate vibrato tones, soft and smooth. Yet if you wait just a minute a sudden shout will wake you again with a dose of energetic cries and nice groove (and yet another catchy melody to end it all).
Kretzmer's dynamic solos spice up the whole album but word of appreciation is to be said as well asabout the other members of the band. Nitai Levi's round tone on clarinet is a perfect match for the leader's sax and he share the soloing duties with honor. The deep and heavy's sound Shai Ran's bass is a pleasure to listen to as is the colourfull drumming by Haim Pakoff - who easily shifts the multiple accents between the crescendos, explosions and melodic resolutions.
To sum it up - great sound, passionate playing, beautifull melodies and wild improvisations - what's more to want from a jazz album. Exciting music worth finding out.