David Buchbinder's Odessa/havana: Walk to the Sea

another faux deep tzadik cover

David Buchbinder's Odessa/havana /
Walk to the sea,
Tzadik, CD 8177, 2013

CD/MP3s available via band website.

Jazz/klezmer trumpeter David Buchbinder's fascination with Afro-Cuban rhythms goes way back. But his pairing with amazing Cuban pianist Hilario Durán is one of his most exciting projects yet. On "Walk to the Sea, they further add the infinitely expressive voice of Maryem Hassan Tollar. She is first heard on the album's second cut, "Landarico," a cool, vocally adept outing that comes on the heels of the album's opening number, an instrumental that evokes the virtuosity of the ensemble members.

Like the first Odessa/havana recording, "Walk to the sea" is a seamless, jazzy fusion the features not just breath-taking piano playing, but surprises and virtuosity from everyone involved. Like any good jazz recording, the melody serves as a grounding point. But, from there, the members diverge, converge, and remake a centuries old fusion that started, perhaps, during the golden age of spain, when Jewish and Arab, African and European, created a culture still remembered. Although we have no music that can be reliably traced back to that time, this new mix of jazz, european dance music, and afro-cuban dance music, is a reminder of how close the traditions have been, and how well they fit together.

I was recently treated to hearing the ensemble live, at the 2014 Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto. The band's performance was one of the highlights of the Saturday night Harbourfront opening, attracting and retaining overflow crowds utterly mesmerized by Durán's amazing piano pyrotechnics, but also by Buchbinder's own soaring trumpet, and by the high level and fluidity of the entire band. I find myself returning over and over the the quieter explorations of the title track, "Walk to the Sea," but also drawn into the contrast between the two "La Roza," tracks, the first more somber, and also closer to Arabic; the second, effervescent, jazzier, transformed. The closing "Conja" manages to demonstrate the depth of the fusion of styles, quietly evoking both Mediterranean and European Jewish folksong. Then, to paraphrase what a reviewer once said about the Kinks, the song finds its way to swinging jazz ensemble exploration leaving the listening uplifted, and ready to start listening all over again.

If the first Odessa/havana recording was an excellent experiment, this newer CD shows how much that fusion has matured. You can get your own copy, digital or physical, via the band's website.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 21 September 2014

Personnel this recording:
David Buchbinder: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Hilario Duran: Piano
Roberto Occhipinti: Bass, Guitar
Mark Kelso: Drums, Bata, Percussion
John Johnson: Clarinet, Tenor And Soprano Saxes, Alto Flute
Aleksandar Gajic: Violin, Viola
Joaquin Nuñez Hidalgo: Congas, Dumbeq, Bata, Chekere
Maryem Hassan Tollar: Vocals

Song Titles

  1. Coffee works (David Buchbinder) 6:29
  2. Landarico (David Buchbinder) 6:30
  3. Aventura Judia (David Buchbinder) 7:46
  4. La Roza Una (David Buchbinder) 3:44
  5. Walk to the sea (David Buchbinder) 5:55
  6. La roza dos (David Buchbinder) 3:41
  7. Valentin (David Buchbinder) 7:37
  8. Calliope (David Buchbinder) 4:16
  9. Conja (David Buchbinder) 6:50

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