December 27, 2018
Shay Hazan Quintet
OutNow ONR 033
Good Morning Universe
NoBusiness Records NBEP 4
As arguably the Middle East’s only First World country and undeniably its only democracy, Israel has been able to develop a sophisticated Jazz scene during its 70 years of existence. In fact like other mature scenes, Israeli Jazzers are started to expatriate, especially to New York and European cities. That hasn’t diminished the national scene as discs like these attest.
Recorded about a year apart in a Tel Aviv club, both feature the bass work and compositions of Shay Hazan, known internationally for his work in the Bones trio and with veteran Israeli tenor saxophonist Albert Berger. Each features Hazan, drummer Haim Peskoff and tenor saxophonist Eyal Netzer. The three are joined on the earlier session by Berger, additional drummer Ofer Bymel and cellist Nadav Masel, casting Good Morning Universe in a free-ish double trio context; while Domestic Peace adds trumpeter Tal Avraham and pianist Milton Michaeli to produce five tunes oriented towards the FreeBop spectrum. Each clocks in at slightly more than half an hour, meaning neither wears out its welcome.
One salient point about these performances by stay-at-home Sabras is that the spirit of John Coltrane’s later work looms large here. This is especially true on the first CD, where the two tenor expositions involve the ensemble in a widened classic Trane-Pharoach Sanders-like note-spewing blow fest, augmented by sometime disconnected double drum patters plus spiccato string sprawling. This result isn’t Kosher Koltrane however, since Hazan’s tunes are aligned with enough animated bounce to inject Freylach into Free Jazz. Similarly, especially on the penultimate “Courtesy”, strangled reed cries are followed with a bass and cello intermezzo of swelling and sawing string intersections that not only surpasses 1960s dissonant experiments but also adds a touch of mellow modulation. Instructively though, the sextet finale is all pumping strings, clattering drums and soaring and jumping reed tones that adds up to a superlative elongated and passionate climax.
Domestic Peace’s personnel change that brings in trumpet and piano leads to gentler and more reflective compositions, which sometimes appear to move backwards past FreeBop to amiable Cool Jazz. Certainly Avraham’s mouthpiece kisses and Michaeli’s sometime gospelish (!) chording suggest the tougher East Coast variant of that more formal style typified by the contemporary experiments of Teddy Charles and early Charles Mingus. Specifically “Who owns music” built on heavily rhythmic double bass string thwacks, is a joyous swing number that coasts along via trumpet beeps and saxophone tongue stuttering as the tinkling piano lines constantly nudges it forward.
“Hybrus part.2” however affirms the quintet’s originality, encompassing brass grace notes, highly energetic piano chording and stuttering split tone and honks from Netzer so wide and fortissimo that you could mask a bombing raid with them. Someone, perhaps Hazan also vocalizes Hebrew rapping or speechifying that adds sassy defiance to any mainstream tendencies remaining.
Overall Hazan and combo(s) confirm that along with every other attraction in the Jewish State, first-class improvised music is being played, preserved presented.
Track Listing: Good: 1. Densho 2. Compassion 3. Courtesy 4. Hope
Personnel: Good: Albert Beger and Eyal Netzer (tenor saxophones); Nadav Masel (Hamsa or 5-string custom cello); Shay Hazan (bass); Haim E. Peskoff and Ofer Bymel (drums)
Track Listing: Domestic: 1. New Year’s Eve (dedicated to Alon Bakal) 2, Cycles 3. Hybrus part.1 4. Hybrus part.2 5. Who owns music?! (dedicated to William Parker)
Personnel: Domestic: Tal Avraham (trumpet); Eyal Netzer (tenor saxophone); Milton Michaeli (piano); Shay Hazan (bass) and Haim Peskoff (drums)