Liran Donin and Idris Rahman, 'Thar' ***

It is easy to be caught in a cleft stick releasing a single track ahead of release. That is because that track doesn't always but can be by default seen to represent the album as its essence even if it isn't really. Not every track serves such a …

Published: 29 Dec 2021. Updated: 6 months.

It is easy to be caught in a cleft stick releasing a single track ahead of release. That is because that track doesn't always but can be by default seen to represent the album as its essence even if it isn't really. Not every track serves such a purpose. Jazz is often regarded as a long-player listen after all and some tracks function as interludes in that album context and aren't meant to do anything else but contribute to the whole.

What we do know about these short fairly introverted three-and-a-half minutes here on the worthwhile 'Thar' from Earth and Bones is that this duo recording has a brooding middle-eastern feel and atmosphere. Album titles riff somewhat on a desert theme including 'Rub' al Khali' the Arabian desert, 'Negev,' a desert in Israel as is 'Al-Ḥajarah' but in Iraq – you get the drift, pun intended. 'Thar' itself is a wasteland in Rajasthan.

English-Bengali reedist Idris Rahman is the brother of pianist Zoe Rahman and is known for his work with Israel-born bassist Donin in Ill Considered and excellent recently with Unknown to Known. Donin bizarrely is also composer of TV chef Gordon Ramsay's game show Bank Balance. The bassist, whose shimmering arco input is a strong feature of the track, performed with Rahman at St Mary's church in Walthamstow where this album to be released on 28 January was recorded. Liran Donin, above. Link to the album's Bandcamp page. Photo: lirandonin.com

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Shirley Smart and Robert Mitchell, 'Opals,' Discus ****

'Opals' is the lead-off track from Shirley Smart and Robert Mitchell's Zeitgeist² streaming ahead of the album's 28 January release. Highly melodic and lightly elegiac there is a lot going on over its 6-minute duration with a firm if controlled …

Published: 28 Dec 2021. Updated: 6 months.

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'Opals' is the lead-off track from Shirley Smart and Robert Mitchell's Zeitgeist² streaming ahead of the album's 28 January release. Highly melodic and lightly elegiac there is a lot going on over its 6-minute duration with a firm if controlled improvisational feel as well as a rhapsodic sense that spools beyond any narrow genre sense and certainly could appeal to classical listeners as well as jazz appreciators. The overall effect is rather beautiful enhanced by the recording's very warmly recorded sonic vaues especially the way the piano sound is captured. Other album tracks are 'The First Note,' 'Anxieties,' 'Zeitgeist,' 'Klavierstück in A,' 'For Catherine,' 'Inner Sanctum,' 'A Son of Windrush Reflects' and 'Mind's Eye'.

The Zeitgeist² version is a slightly longer and more intense treatment of 'Opals' in a new arrangement of the Smart piece that has appeared on the cellist-composer's 2018 trio album Long Story Short – that version beginning with a percussive flourish, for instance. Hear Smart and Mitchell at the Vortex on 20 January.

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