Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Sam Yahel Trio: Truth and Beauty

Origin Arts
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.6.08
Buy CD: Truth and Beauty

This trio utilizes a Hammond B3 organ (Sam Yahel), a tenor sax (Joshua Redman) and drums (Brian Blade). All are superior musicians. 

Six of the nine tracks were written and arranged by Sam; the rest include a bop standard by Ornette Colman, a tune by Paul Simon and another by Gilberto Gil/Joao Donato. 

The operative word here is "arranged." The melodic lines shared by Yahel's B3 and Redman's tenor are not extemporaneous; both artists "read" the music, note for note. The tunes range from simple to complex, and cover a spectrum of meters: from standard 4/4 to waltz, Latin-tinged and no regular beat at all. 

The solos that occur within the framework of the specific melody and meter are beautifully matched to each tune's theme, and the interplay between instruments is something to experience. The background rhythm supplied by Blade's drums always complement, and never intrudes. 

Each artist plays expressively and gently: no "honking" of the sax, and no bravado keyboard phrases from the B3. 

The liner notes include six pages of almost-too-small-to-read background data, written by Brad Mehldau (a marvelous musician in his own right); this essay provides more detail than you need about the artists, instruments, keys, etc. for each track. But you need not read everything to appreciate the music. 

This soothing, melodic CD will provide hours of listening pleasure.

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