Two things make Daniel Ori's debut solo album "So It Goes" special, the compositions, and the players! When I was asked by Daniel to review this release, I was not familiar with Daniel, or any of the players on this CD. But after a number of listens, I am not only familiar, I am a fan! If this is the sound of young jazz players in the world today, then I can honestly say the music is in good hands
Knowing that Daniel brings to his compositions an uniquely Israeli perspective, further reminds me that Jazz is alive all over the world! The compositions are not ethnic per se, but have an international flair about them. The titles, the tempos, the phrasing, none of these things can be locked down to one jazz tradition or another. From the rollicking opening cut, "On a Tin Floor" the listener is treated to a melody that is eerily familiar, but by no means can you place it. You are absorbed into the movement of it, the exploration of new moods. Uri Gurvich's alto sax treatment of the melody is haunting and powerful. The rhythm section of Daniel Ori on bass and Eric Doob on drums pushes the song through highs and lows and at the end of the song you're left with this feeling like you just drove a car through a major city with a blindfold on! You are dropped into the second track needing to take a deep breath. I loved that about the order of the cuts! The second cut opens with Ori setting the tone and rhythm of this next piece, "Susurrus"( a whispering sound or murmur), on the bass. Again, Gurvich takes the lead on alto sax putting the accents on the melody, while the percussion of Marcelo Woloski and Doob on drums keeps the groove in the pocket. It is a simple melody that has so much richness in it's simplicity, it leaves room for the individual expression to come through. Again, tempo and melody combine to energize this song perfectly.
What I recognized by the second cut is that these compositions by Daniel Ori are canvasses for his fellow players to paint their portraits on. Each player is given the freedom to express the song in their style, and you feel them gelling from the first note to be the cumulative expression of what Daniel's vision for the composition is. There is a detectable pleasure in the collaboration that comes through in the music and makes for a wonderful listening experience.
"Usul", the third cut takes off like a New York City cab at a yellow light, moving forward on the first note never looking back. Then midway into the song you hear a subtle riff of guitar by Jeff Miles that is the prelude to a tasty solo. This award-winning guitarist is another brilliant choice made by Ori. Miles subtle styling is a real compliment to the CD. He clearly shows that he has studied all the great jazz guitarists before him and has found a tone that suits his interpretation. Dynamics is a word I always heard on the drums, but never paid attention to in a guitarist, especially electric players. But the essence of Ori's compositions require sensitivity to dynamics. Jeff Miles delivers the kind of melodic sensitivity that these songs need, and provides another dimension in the dynamic interpretation. Like I said, great songs and great players make for great listening.
The CD develops it's personality early on and the listener begins to expect a certain quality in each cut and I was not disappointed. I did all my early listening in the usual venues, car, work PC, stereo room, etc. It wasn't until I sat down on a Sunday morning with no distractions and listened all the way through did I realize just how good this CD is. "Manna Blues" was the cut that let me know that Ori as a composer had the diverse background needed to bring a fresh taste to the jazz scene. The notes evoke a feeling of newness that I have not felt in some contemporary jazz writers. Yet, at the same time, the way the performers honored the techniques and styling of the legends of jazz, you felt you were hearing the legacy of jazz, alive and well again. I challenge any listener to listen to this CD and not hear the DNA of great jazz expressed in the execution of these young players. I for one am grateful that they have taken the best of the past and injected it with a new and young vision for what could be. Daniel Ori as a composer is someone to watch. Daniel Ori as a player, is experienced by carefully listening to these tracks, because he does not make a point of being the leader in the traditional sense. He is there, letting the leadership come through in the product of the whole ensemble. That is what makes me a real fan of Daniel and his music. He has good taste in notes, players, and what works!
The sequence of "Manna Blues", "Lean" and the title track "So It Goes" is unique because in three cuts, you get the full benefit of Daniel's skill as composer, player and band leader. In "Lean" the exchange of lead between Gurvich and Miles is subtle and brilliantly executed. The rhythm section including Gabriel Guerrero are tight and seamless in moving from theme to theme. There is always a sense of intensity in these tracks and an attention to each other that would be pleasure to watch live.
"So It Goes", the title track is a moody piece with all the angst of the other cuts pulled into a strong melody with the same dynamic variation that has come to be, for me, a hallmark of Ori's composing. The mood shifts and use of phrasing to build on the tensions and releases of the piece make these songs timeless and brand new all at once.
"Heal" the seventh track is when you finally get to hear the full expression of Daniel Ori through his own instrument in the solo he takes on this track. He shows his skill on the bass as he and Miles team up to provide a special partnership in their interpretation of yet another one of Ori's unique compositions. Even under Miles' solo you hear the strength of Ori and his bass filling the bars with support and direction. In the last few bars of this tune, Gurvich's sensitivity to the movement of the melody puts the final touches on a fine piece.
In the final cut, "Morning to Evening" the power of Ori's playing challenged my woofers! The deep emotional nature of the melody comes through the strings of his bass. This is the one piece that had the deepest ethnic roots and the most emotion in it. Guerrero's piano playing is finally highlighted and makes for a strong tool to express the pulse of the song while communicating the emotion. A simply beautiful composition and a fitting capstone to a collection of compositions that brought the meaning to NEW jazz music. The kind of new I look forward to as a reviewer. I will warn you that as you listen to this debut CD by Daniel Ori, bassist and composer of merit, have one hand on your equalizer and the other on your heart. He will move you, you will feel this music. In your soul and in your gut, especially when he plays the final tune "Morning to Evening"! I don't use the word brilliant too often but this work warrants it. "So It Goes" is a brilliant first effort by Daniel Ori. -- Chuck Vecoli - Jazz Review