by Ian Mann
January 07, 2015
An ambitious piece of work, rich in musical colour and emotional depth it's a highly impressive artistic statement.
“Born In Parallel”
(33 Records 33xtreme004)
Daphna Sadeh is an Israeli born double bassist and composer now based in the UK. She first appeared on the Jazzmann web pages back in 2009 when I reviewed her third album release “Reconciliation”, a highly melodic blend of jazz and world music influences that featured her excellent UK based band The Voyagers.
Sadeh studied classical music at the Manhattan School of Music in New York before joining the Israeli based East West Ensemble with whom she toured extensively while immersing herself in Middle Eastern and Arabic music. She was later the co-leader of the all female group Eve’s Women playing a blend of jazz, klezmer and rock while again touring extensively and internationally.
Following a move to London 2002 saw the release of Sadeh’s first solo album “Out Of Border”. Its success led to the formation of the Voyagers group in 2003. Both “Walking the Line” (2007) and “Reconciliation” were credited to Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers, the latter being released on John Zorn’s Tzadik record label.
Sadeh’s albums thus far have been thoroughly convincing fusions of jazz with various musical strands of the Jewish diaspora. However “Born in Parallel” is her most ambitious project to date, a four part suite that combines her usual jazz and world music influences with classical and baroque music. The compositions are played by a fourteen piece ensemble conducted by David Murphy that features both jazz/world and baroque musicians. Murphy played a key role in the project and is credited with Sadeh as co-orchestrator. He has had previous experience with such “crossover” projects having worked previously with the late, great Ravi Shankar and the respect that he and Sadeh have for each other is immediately apparent from the album’s liner notes.
“Born in Parallel” sees Sadeh returning to 33 Records, also the home of the earlier “Walking the Line”. The new album appears on 33’s new Xtreme imprint, presumably because it exceeds the scope of the label’s more straight-ahead jazz releases.
Sadeh says of “Born in Parallel”
“The album is a personal journey that transcends over centuries of musical history created in different parts of the world. My vision was to create a common ground for these diverse cultural and musical genres, a space for dialogue between languages of music originating from east and west, each one resonating its own heritage and tradition”.
In this respect the project is a continuation of her previous work, particularly “Reconciliation” which skilfully brought together many of the different strands of Sadeh’s musical heritage.
“The composition has four movements; Earth, Fire, Water and Air. The Ancient Greeks held the belief that these four elements, combining in different ways, create all the forms of matter in our world. This idea inspired me as I was bringing together these diverse styles of music, allowing them to take on new forms. I worked closely with David Murphy, the orchestrator and conductor, for over a year. David’s wealth of experience and musical brilliance alongside his integrity and devotion were a source of inspiration. This project wouldn’t have been possible without him”.
The album was recorded at All Saints Church in London in 2012 and although it’s taken some time for it to be released on disc it’s been well worth the wait. The ensemble comprised of;
WORLD / JAZZ MUSICIANS - Daphna Sadeh -double bass, Stewart Curtis- woodwinds, Frank Moon - oud, Mark Bassey - trombone, Guy Schalom - percussion.
BAROQUE MUSICIANS - David Murphy - orchestrator and conductor, Bojan Cicic - 1st violin, Hilary Michael - 2nd violin, Clare Barwick - viola, Joe crouch - cello, Judith Evans - double bass, Rachel Brown - flute, Leo Duarte - 1st oboe, Joel Raymond - 2nd oboe, Zoe Shevlin- bassoon.
The elven minute “Earth” opens the proceedings, a rich melange of baroque textures featuring strings and woodwinds interacting with the exotic sounds of Moon’s oud. There’s little conventional jazz soloing but it’s Moon’s privilege to be the first featured instrumentalist. The music is lively and spirited with Schalom’s subtle percussion providing a pleasing rhythmic impetus. Lightly dancing flute features prominently, presumably played by Curtis. He’s an integral part of The Voyagers as is Mark Bassey whose familiar trombone rasp can be heard later on the second significant solo. There’s also some lovely ensemble playing by the baroque players with the sound of the oboe prominent before a sombre coda featuring Curtis’ woodwinds floating eerily above the low register drone of bowed double bass. There are many aspects of music here, all skilfully brought together by Sadeh and Curtis and their fellow musicians.
At a little over eight minutes the lively “Fire” is another delight with the two musical strands of the ensemble achieving a true synthesis. Violin features alongside Bassey’s trombone and Curtis’ flute as Schalom’s percussion again provides momentum. There’s a change of mood and pace mid tune and some truly elegant baroque playing before a more spirited folk like strain emerges, one can imagine dancers performing to some of this. Moon’s oud, a replacement for the baroque lute in this context, assumes brief prominence but overall it’s the vivid colours of the highly integrated ensemble playing and the kaleidoscopic richness of the orchestration that impresses most.
The thirteen minute “Water” is more sombre in feel but continues to possess the depth of colour and texture we have now come to expect from this ensemble. Pizzicato strings approximate the sound of raindrops but it’s Curtis’ opening solo on (I think) soprano sax that really attracts the attention, a keening, klezmer like wail that emits genuine emotion. Like all these compositions the piece is in a constant state of flux and Curtis’ feature is followed first by a plucked double bass solo, presumably by Sadeh herself, and then by the rounded tones of Bassey’s trombone. There’s also some more delightful baroque playing including a desolately haunting passage of solo cello from Joe Crouch.
Solo pizzicato double bass, again presumably played by Sadeh introduces the final movement, “Air”. This is followed by a delightful passage of solo oud, Schalom eventually adding a rhythmic undertow to Moon’s meditations. Additional elements, both jazz and baroque are skilfully added as the piece evolves with features for flute, violin and Bassey’s subtly blues tinged trombone. As the album comes full circle it’s Moon who is also the final soloist as he makes an evocative closing statement.
“Born In Parallel” is an ambitious piece of work, brilliantly executed by Sadeh, Murphy and the members of the ensemble. Rich in musical colour and emotional depth it’s a highly impressive artistic statement.
Having said that it’s probably likely to hold less appeal to regular jazz listeners than the earlier “Reconciliation”, still my personal favourite. Nevertheless the contributions of the soloists, particularly Curtis, Bassey and Moon do give jazz listeners something to hang their hats on to, a platform from which to advance.
From Daphna Sadeh via email;
Many thanks for the review ! Very well written and well observed.
I appreciate it very much.
I can tell you that I already am thinking about my next CD which will have much more Jazz influences?.
Hope to record it in the second half of 2015 or so.
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