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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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GILAD ATZMON AND THE
ORIENT HOUSE ENSEMBLE

The Whistle Blower

Fanfare Jazz FJ1501

 

 

  1. Gaza Mon Amour

  2. Forever

  3. The Romantic Church

  4. Let Us Pray

  5. The Song

  6. To Be Free

  7. For Moana

  8. The Whistle Blower

    Gilad Atzmon - Alto sax, soprano sax, clarinet, accordion, guitar, vocals

    Frank Harrison - Piano, keyboards, vocals

    Yaron Stavi - Double bass, electric bass, vocals

    Chris Higginbottom - Drums, vocals

    Tali Atzmon - Vocals

    Antonio Feola - Voice

    Gilad Atzmon is one of jazz's mavericks. Novelist, writer, political activist and (based on a couple of concerts of his I've attended), something of a stand-up comedian. Most of all, though, he is a highly accomplished composer and musician, proficient on a number of instruments. Gilad was born in Israel but emigrated to London in 1994 and became a British citizen in 2000. The Orient House Ensemble has been a going concern since the early years of the current century. Their CD Exile was selected as the BBC Jazz Album of the Year in 2003. Apart from Gilad, three of the personnel on this new disc (Frank Harrison, Yaron Stavi and Tali Atzmon) were also on that earlier recording. They are used to each other's company and it shows. The only track that specifically reminds me of Exile in this new collection, however, is the first one here, namely the rhythmic Gaza Mon Amour where Atzmon's bustling and impassioned alto sax can be heard.

    Other stand-out tracks on this latest CD are The Romantic Church, The Song and For Moana. The Romantic Church has Atzmon demonstrating yearning romanticism as well as superb technique, while Frank Harrison plays with his accustomed finesse. I found this number reminiscent of Atzmon's CD tribute to Charlie Parker, In Loving Memory of America, given the presence of strings and the lushness of Atzmon's style. The Song is brief but enjoyable, Atzmon evoking a French café scene with his atmospheric accordion and Yaron Stavi exemplary on bass. For Moana is a wistful recollection of Moana Pozzi, an Italian porn star and politician who died at the age of 33. Gilad has some affectionate words concerning her in the liner notes. Harrison on piano offers typically thoughtful support as does the nimble Chris Higginbottom on drums.

    For the rest, Let Us Pray features an adventurous and prolonged exploration of a (Coltrane-esque?) theme while The Whistle Blower is pretty well a novelty piece, complete with wolf-whistles and an accordion, once more with a continental feel. Antonio Feola (voice only) and Tali Atzmon (Gilad's jazz singer wife) join the entire band for vocals here in what some will find a tad eccentric performance. For Ever and To Be Free both contain further fine playing from Atzmon who, whatever instrument he picks up, is masterly. One that will bear repeat listening.

    James Poore



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