Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Oded Tzúr, My Prophet, ECM ***

With only five significant tracks - the opener 'Epilogue' (surely an epilogue comes at the end?) is not so - a contrast to the whopping title track which comes in at over 11 minutes - the My Prophet line-up is a quartet formation - the Israel born …

Published: 28 May 2024. Updated: 53 days.

With only five significant tracks - the opener 'Epilogue' (surely an epilogue comes at the end?) is not so - a contrast to the whopping title track which comes in at over 11 minutes - the My Prophet line-up is a quartet formation - the Israel born New Yorker tenorist Oded Tzúr along with compatriate regular pianist Nitai Hershkovits, whose own Call On The Old Wise (2023) is actually a much better album, Greek bassist Petros Klampanis and Brazilian drummer Cyrano Almeida who is new to the band and whose approach is a little Seb Rochford-like.

My Prophet was recorded last November in the revered French studio of La Buissonne, a favoured spot that has proved very worthwhile for producer Manfred Eicher in recent decades and where Ahmad Jamal recorded his late period Jazz Village classic Saturday Morning more than a decade ago.

'Through a Land Unsown' - not a gloomy Jeremiad at all but certainly sincerely conveyed - is the most striking of the tracks and in terms of flow when Tzúr comes alive more on 'Renata' it's a purple patch of considerable quality. But Isabela is far better - earlier work of the pastorally inclined saxist's work on the same issuing label - read a review of that fine 2022 release here.

'Child You' from My Prophet is streaming

Tags: NEW in reviews

Eurojazz album of the week: Michael Schiefel and David Friedman, Hiptoe, Traumton ****

EUROJAZZ ALBUM OF THE WEEK How that essential active ingredient spontaneity is like reactivated yeast that does its magic to let the eventual bread rise and become delicious. This great year for the vibes continues and there's a twist. A vibes and …

Published: 28 May 2024. Updated: 53 days.

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EUROJAZZ ALBUM OF THE WEEK

How that essential active ingredient spontaneity is like reactivated yeast that does its magic to let the eventual bread rise and become delicious.

This great year for the vibes continues and there's a twist. A vibes and voice conversation with all the intimacy of Tony Bennett's rapport with Bill Evans leaps to mind on listening to the opener, 'Some Other Time.'

Münster-born German jazz singer Michael Schiefel's wonderfully pristine high alto voice gives an almost unearthly feel to Herbie Hancock's 'Dolphin Dance' that follows.

And it works more than well connecting with vibes icon, the New York born long time German jazz legend David Friedman, 80, who is known most of all for 1970s classic Double Image.

Friedman's incredible discography over a long career had also by then included a presence on Wayne Shorter's moving 1971 released Blue Note album Odyssey of Iska - hear his touches especially on 'Calm.'

We can't resist including a link to Friedman's spot on the Creed Taylor produced 'What'll I Do' heard on Chet Baker's She Was Too Good To Me that the vibist features on issued 50 years ago.

''When I make music with Michael Schiefel,'' Friedman says, ''this special spark of spontaneous creativity becomes the norm of the moment.''

And, certainly, you gain the feel of an aliveness transported down the ether across decades, cities, hearts and minds. Climbing into the Tower of Song the inclusion of 'Waltz For Debby' becomes an early Monica Zetterlund-esque peak. Again you think of Bennett and Evans. And there isn't even a cognitive dissonance paradigm shift needed (in the sense that Schiefel's voice is so high whereas Bennett's is so low - and the harmonies Friedman chooses aren't at all Evans-like, more the sort of things you might hear on a classic Gary Burton album).

What all the pieces in their treatments share in common, is a certain stately but not laboured tempo and feel that means you get time to listen - nothing is rushed. But the more experimental vocal side that Schiefel is renowned for isn't absent and neither are notes of Michael Franks here and there and a tip of the hat to the beats-inspired dexterity of Mark Murphy. In the opening to 'Round Midnight' it's found best. He keeps one guessing. Certainly, the more avant-garde seam of jazz vocals is explored in the opening foray. And when Friedman moves the interpretation along and eventually introduces the melody it's very cleverly constructed and delivered.

Clues as to how and why it becomes such a persuasive success are provided in its laidback creation as Friedman describes, referring to the album's genesis during the pandemic:

''Michael and I coincidentally met on the street and decided to get together at my apartment and jam, both of us hungry to play with someone else after months of musical abstinence. I set up microphones, placed Michael near my balcony with the door slightly opened. We agreed on a standard and off we went into the stratosphere! Luckily I recorded everything. We weren’t planning on making an album. We just wanted to record our jam and have a good time.''

The spell of the songs hooks you in no matter how elaborately the duo take a note for a walk. And think how after a few moments you throw thoughts of comparison aside even when certainly you know where you are which is enough. Spend time with the album today, it works like a charm. They had a good time making it - listening in all serendipity we did too.

Michael Schiefel and David Friedman, photo via Traumton on Bandcamp