Saturday, February 28, 2015

Nir Naaman: Independence

Nir Naaman Music
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Independence

Nir Naaman was born and raised in Israel, where every able-bodied citizen is required  to serve time in the military; he wound up playing lead alto saxophone in the Israeli Air Force Band. He moved to the States in 2004, graduated from the Berklee College of Music, and then earned a master’s degree in jazz studies from Purchase College. Next up was a stint at the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program, at the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., where he was mentored by George Cables, Billy Taylor, Curtis Fuller and others. 

Still striving to further his education, Naaman currently is enrolled in the doctor of musical arts program at Boston’s New England Conservatory. He splits his time between Boston and New York City, where he leads a quartet. 

Independence is Naaman’s debut album. He plays both alto and soprano sax, and composed all but three of the tunes: Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You,” Jimmy Van-Heusen/Johnny Burke’s “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” and the traditional “Eshal Elohai.” Naaman is supported by Marcus Printup (trumpet), George Cables and Roy Assaf (piano), Dezron Douglas (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson and Ulysses Owens Jr. (drums).

The varied album menu includes up-tempo, bop-tinged swingers; soft, danceable ballads; and the aforementioned Yemenite Jewish dance.

Naaman is a promising artist, and his combo is excellent. I look forward to hearing more from him.

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