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Liran Donin’s 1000 Boats - 8 Songs Rating: 4-5 out of 5 The album features a series of multi-faceted compositions that skilfully combine jazz with aspects of Middle Eastern and North African music. There are some excellent tunes here.

Liran Donin’s 1000 Boats

“8 Songs”

(Cavalo Records LDCD001)

Liran Donin is probably best known to British jazz audiences as the bassist of the mighty Led Bib, the long running, Mercury nominated quintet led by American born drummer and composer Mark Holub.

But there’s a lot more to Donin than that, the Israeli born, London based musician is also a prolific sideman, an increasingly in demand record producer, and now the leader of his own quintet, the band collectively known as 1000 Boats.

Donin studied jazz at Middlesex University after arriving in the UK from Tel Aviv and it was here that he met Holub and the other members of Led Bib. The success of the band has allowed Donin to broaden his interests and he has since worked as a sideman across a variety of musical genres. Among those with whom Donin has performed are rock and pop artists such as Chrissie Hynde and the American indie band We Go Magic. He has collaborated with BBC folk award winners The Unthanks and has also explored various types of world music through his work with Ethio-jazz vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke, tabla master Pandit Shardak Sahai and vocalist Aruna Sairam. He has also appeared on numerous film, radio and TV soundtracks and collaborated with choreographer Sivan Rubinstein.

There have also been more obvious jazz collaborations with British-Asian clarinettist Arun Ghosh and the short lived twin bass, twin drum collaboration Mustard Pie featuring Donin and fellow bassist Tom Herbert, and drummers Mark Holub and Seb Rochford, effectively a combination of the rhythm sections of Led Bib and Polar Bear fronted by Pinski Zoo saxophonist Jan Kopinski.

Donin is also forging a reputation as a dynamic and creative record producer, recently producing albums by contemporary jazz acts such as WorldService Project and Raph Clarkson’s Dissolute Society. He has also acted as a producer for the award winning Zambian/Scottish vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Namvula and is currently working on the second album by Indian born vocalist Ranjana Ghatak.

Donin’s musical and cultural background feeds into his solo project 1000 Boats. Despite the title the album actually features nine tracks, although only eight are actually composed by Donin, and the material is directly inspired by his “Israeli and Moroccan sub Saharan background”.

The personnel that Donin his chosen for his first solo project include his Led Bib colleague Chris Williams on alto sax, plus another jazz saxophonist, Josh Arcoleo on tenor. The Italian born, London based Maria Chiara Argiro, a band-leader in her own right, fills the piano chair and the group is rounded out by the versatile drummer and percussionist Ben Brown, of the group Bahla.

Led Bib are best known for their powerful blend of punk jazz or skronk but 1000 Boats is very different, with Donin’s writing including elements of folk and world music, in addition to the jazz components that the collective personnel bring to the project. The music may be less obviously “in your face” than Led Bib, but with two fifths of that band involved with this project there’s no shortage of power either.

The album commences with “I Can See Tarifa” with Donin’s powerful pizzicato plucking underscored by Argiro’s muscular piano arpeggios. The use of two saxophones, this time alto and tenor as opposed to the twin alto front line of Led Bib, allows plenty of room for polyphony and counterpoint as the fiery horns of Williams and Arcoloeo intertwine thrillingly in a constantly unfolding exchange of musical ideas. Brown’s drumming is crisp, powerful and consistently colourful and inventive on this attention grabbing opener.

Introduced by Argiro at the piano “The Story of Annette and Maurice”, written for Donin’s grandparents, is more considered and is possessed of a strong narrative arc, as the theme and title of the piece suggests. Bass, reeds and drums are added to the equation as the piece develops organically and logically, the momentum constantly ebbing and flowing. Donin’s melodic bass engages in dialogue with Argiro’s piano as Brown provides percussive commentary before the horns, now working in tandem, return to drive the music forward once more, bringing the intensity to a peak prior to a gentle, piano led coda.

“Alma Sophia”, dedicated to Donin’s young daughter, is a trio piece featuring Donin’s bass in conjunction with Argiro’s piano and Brown’s drums. A gentle intro featuring the leader’s melodic, but resonant, bass, Argiro’s lyrical piano and Brown’s brushed drums leads to a more vigorous second section with a dazzling piano solo from Argiro. Here the young Italian builds up an impressive head of steam, aided by Donin’s muscular bass playing and Brown’s nimble, colourful drumming. It’s a performance that has evoked comparisons of the work of another Israeli born bassist and composer, the New York based Avishai Cohen and his trio.

The dramatic “Tel Aviv to Ramallah” is introduced by a muezzin like sax wail and is obviously of Middle Eastern origin. It’s an immensely powerful piece, fuelled by Brown’s dynamic drumming and with Williams contributing a biting alto solo before linking up with Arcoleo. The leader’s bass enjoys a degree of prominence towards the close on a piece that is vaguely reminiscent of something that Gilad Atzmon’s Orient House ensemble might have attempted.

Credited to Argiro “Paws” is a charming three and a half minute solo piano interlude that effectively divides the album, and Donin’s own “8 Songs”,  into two halves. One suspects that the title is probably a pun on the word “pause”.

Argiro’s piece leads into “Noam, Sea and Sand”, another Donin composition that commences in piano trio mode. In the highly amplified sound world of Led Bib Donin has increasingly gravitated to using an electric bass, this solo album offers a welcome reminder of just how good an acoustic double bassist he really is. This track is case in point as Donin swarms all over his bass in the tune’s opening stages. The track itself skilfully combines melody and groove with excellent performances also coming from Argiro and Brown. The horns eventually join the party to provide additional heft in the closing stages.

With its beguiling folk inspired melodies “Gal and Osh” follows a similar trajectory and features more superb acoustic bass playing from the leader. Again the piece begins in trio mode before a sudden shift in gear leads into an exhilarating, hard grooving passage featuring the garrulous wail of the saxes. Finally there’s a gently lyrical coda for just bass and piano.

Argiro utilises prepared piano techniques, giving the music a distinctive African feel as she joins forces with Donin and Brown on the highly rhythmic “New Beginnings”. The piece also acts as something of a feature for the consistently excellent Brown as well as forming the introduction to the closing “FREE”.
This is a gloriously celebratory composition that teams driving rhythms with punchy, melodic horn lines and the soaring choral voices of Donin, Williams and Ranjana Ghatak. There’s a grandiose, transcendent quality about the music on this final cut that suggests the influence of Kamasi Washington.

With its family and cultural references “8 Songs” represents a very personal album for Donin but he has created a sound-world that is also readily accessible for others to explore. The album features a series of multi-faceted compositions that skilfully combine jazz with aspects of Middle Eastern and North African music. There are some excellent tunes here, some of them originally conceived with lyrics in mind, and the playing by all concerned is superb throughout. Donin’s skills as a producer also come to the fore with a pinpoint sound mix that ensures that everybody sounds good. “8 Songs” is one of the most invigorating new jazz albums that I’ve heard in a long while and represents a considerable triumph for Donin, one of UK jazz’s best loved and most successful imports.

1000 Boats will play a short series of live dates in the UK and Europe during October and November 2018. Schedule listed below;

12th October Liran Donin 1000s Boats   Willem Twee Nederlands
13th October Liran Donin 1000s Boats Rotterdam, Jazz Cafe Dizzys Nederlands
14th October Liran Donin 1000s Boats Germany (TBC)
2nd November Liran Donin 1000s Boats, Derby Jazz UK
9th November Liran Donin 1000s Boats Leeds University MasterClass,
22nd November,  Liran Donin 1000s Boats, London Jazz Festival QEH UK (supporting Bugge Wesseltoft)

8 Songs

Liran Donin’s 1000 Boats

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

4-5 out of 5

8 Songs

The album features a series of multi-faceted compositions that skilfully combine jazz with aspects of Middle Eastern and North African music. There are some excellent tunes here.

Liran Donin’s 1000 Boats

“8 Songs”

(Cavalo Records LDCD001)

Liran Donin is probably best known to British jazz audiences as the bassist of the mighty Led Bib, the long running, Mercury nominated quintet led by American born drummer and composer Mark Holub.

But there’s a lot more to Donin than that, the Israeli born, London based musician is also a prolific sideman, an increasingly in demand record producer, and now the leader of his own quintet, the band collectively known as 1000 Boats.

Donin studied jazz at Middlesex University after arriving in the UK from Tel Aviv and it was here that he met Holub and the other members of Led Bib. The success of the band has allowed Donin to broaden his interests and he has since worked as a sideman across a variety of musical genres. Among those with whom Donin has performed are rock and pop artists such as Chrissie Hynde and the American indie band We Go Magic. He has collaborated with BBC folk award winners The Unthanks and has also explored various types of world music through his work with Ethio-jazz vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke, tabla master Pandit Shardak Sahai and vocalist Aruna Sairam. He has also appeared on numerous film, radio and TV soundtracks and collaborated with choreographer Sivan Rubinstein.

There have also been more obvious jazz collaborations with British-Asian clarinettist Arun Ghosh and the short lived twin bass, twin drum collaboration Mustard Pie featuring Donin and fellow bassist Tom Herbert, and drummers Mark Holub and Seb Rochford, effectively a combination of the rhythm sections of Led Bib and Polar Bear fronted by Pinski Zoo saxophonist Jan Kopinski.

Donin is also forging a reputation as a dynamic and creative record producer, recently producing albums by contemporary jazz acts such as WorldService Project and Raph Clarkson’s Dissolute Society. He has also acted as a producer for the award winning Zambian/Scottish vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Namvula and is currently working on the second album by Indian born vocalist Ranjana Ghatak.

Donin’s musical and cultural background feeds into his solo project 1000 Boats. Despite the title the album actually features nine tracks, although only eight are actually composed by Donin, and the material is directly inspired by his “Israeli and Moroccan sub Saharan background”.

The personnel that Donin his chosen for his first solo project include his Led Bib colleague Chris Williams on alto sax, plus another jazz saxophonist, Josh Arcoleo on tenor. The Italian born, London based Maria Chiara Argiro, a band-leader in her own right, fills the piano chair and the group is rounded out by the versatile drummer and percussionist Ben Brown, of the group Bahla.

Led Bib are best known for their powerful blend of punk jazz or skronk but 1000 Boats is very different, with Donin’s writing including elements of folk and world music, in addition to the jazz components that the collective personnel bring to the project. The music may be less obviously “in your face” than Led Bib, but with two fifths of that band involved with this project there’s no shortage of power either.

The album commences with “I Can See Tarifa” with Donin’s powerful pizzicato plucking underscored by Argiro’s muscular piano arpeggios. The use of two saxophones, this time alto and tenor as opposed to the twin alto front line of Led Bib, allows plenty of room for polyphony and counterpoint as the fiery horns of Williams and Arcoloeo intertwine thrillingly in a constantly unfolding exchange of musical ideas. Brown’s drumming is crisp, powerful and consistently colourful and inventive on this attention grabbing opener.

Introduced by Argiro at the piano “The Story of Annette and Maurice”, written for Donin’s grandparents, is more considered and is possessed of a strong narrative arc, as the theme and title of the piece suggests. Bass, reeds and drums are added to the equation as the piece develops organically and logically, the momentum constantly ebbing and flowing. Donin’s melodic bass engages in dialogue with Argiro’s piano as Brown provides percussive commentary before the horns, now working in tandem, return to drive the music forward once more, bringing the intensity to a peak prior to a gentle, piano led coda.

“Alma Sophia”, dedicated to Donin’s young daughter, is a trio piece featuring Donin’s bass in conjunction with Argiro’s piano and Brown’s drums. A gentle intro featuring the leader’s melodic, but resonant, bass, Argiro’s lyrical piano and Brown’s brushed drums leads to a more vigorous second section with a dazzling piano solo from Argiro. Here the young Italian builds up an impressive head of steam, aided by Donin’s muscular bass playing and Brown’s nimble, colourful drumming. It’s a performance that has evoked comparisons of the work of another Israeli born bassist and composer, the New York based Avishai Cohen and his trio.

The dramatic “Tel Aviv to Ramallah” is introduced by a muezzin like sax wail and is obviously of Middle Eastern origin. It’s an immensely powerful piece, fuelled by Brown’s dynamic drumming and with Williams contributing a biting alto solo before linking up with Arcoleo. The leader’s bass enjoys a degree of prominence towards the close on a piece that is vaguely reminiscent of something that Gilad Atzmon’s Orient House ensemble might have attempted.

Credited to Argiro “Paws” is a charming three and a half minute solo piano interlude that effectively divides the album, and Donin’s own “8 Songs”,  into two halves. One suspects that the title is probably a pun on the word “pause”.

Argiro’s piece leads into “Noam, Sea and Sand”, another Donin composition that commences in piano trio mode. In the highly amplified sound world of Led Bib Donin has increasingly gravitated to using an electric bass, this solo album offers a welcome reminder of just how good an acoustic double bassist he really is. This track is case in point as Donin swarms all over his bass in the tune’s opening stages. The track itself skilfully combines melody and groove with excellent performances also coming from Argiro and Brown. The horns eventually join the party to provide additional heft in the closing stages.

With its beguiling folk inspired melodies “Gal and Osh” follows a similar trajectory and features more superb acoustic bass playing from the leader. Again the piece begins in trio mode before a sudden shift in gear leads into an exhilarating, hard grooving passage featuring the garrulous wail of the saxes. Finally there’s a gently lyrical coda for just bass and piano.

Argiro utilises prepared piano techniques, giving the music a distinctive African feel as she joins forces with Donin and Brown on the highly rhythmic “New Beginnings”. The piece also acts as something of a feature for the consistently excellent Brown as well as forming the introduction to the closing “FREE”.
This is a gloriously celebratory composition that teams driving rhythms with punchy, melodic horn lines and the soaring choral voices of Donin, Williams and Ranjana Ghatak. There’s a grandiose, transcendent quality about the music on this final cut that suggests the influence of Kamasi Washington.

With its family and cultural references “8 Songs” represents a very personal album for Donin but he has created a sound-world that is also readily accessible for others to explore. The album features a series of multi-faceted compositions that skilfully combine jazz with aspects of Middle Eastern and North African music. There are some excellent tunes here, some of them originally conceived with lyrics in mind, and the playing by all concerned is superb throughout. Donin’s skills as a producer also come to the fore with a pinpoint sound mix that ensures that everybody sounds good. “8 Songs” is one of the most invigorating new jazz albums that I’ve heard in a long while and represents a considerable triumph for Donin, one of UK jazz’s best loved and most successful imports.

1000 Boats will play a short series of live dates in the UK and Europe during October and November 2018. Schedule listed below;

12th October Liran Donin 1000s Boats   Willem Twee Nederlands
13th October Liran Donin 1000s Boats Rotterdam, Jazz Cafe Dizzys Nederlands
14th October Liran Donin 1000s Boats Germany (TBC)
2nd November Liran Donin 1000s Boats, Derby Jazz UK
9th November Liran Donin 1000s Boats Leeds University MasterClass,
22nd November,  Liran Donin 1000s Boats, London Jazz Festival QEH UK (supporting Bugge Wesseltoft)


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