Malox: One Day (2007)
Malox, a faulty spelling of the brand name antacid, is a duo headed by Israeli saxophonist Eyal Talmudia gifted player with eclectic tastes, who is very active in the alternative Israeli scene with such Balkan-tinged and Klezmer-punked up ensembles as Boom Pam, Balkan Beat Box and Oy Division, and avant-jam-rock outfits like Midnight Fish. Drummer Hagai Fresthman is an alumnus of Israeli saxophonist Albert Beger's bands, but also plays in dozens of other Israeli alternative ensembles, and is Talmudi's co-conspirator in this sonic adventure.
The tough Talmudi defines Malox's music as Hora Punk, with the duo's debut release reflecting Talmudi's eclectic interests, ranging from Eastern European festive dances to sax acrobatics à la World Saxophone Quartet, with a clear reference to Hamiet Bluiett's baritone sax legacy. There are also traces of dub and reggae through African polyrhythms and studio sound experiments. This release, the first on Talmudi's label, was recorded in New York and Tel Aviv.
Five pieces are traditional Hasidic dances, but the bulk of Talmudi's original compositions reference the Klezmer legacy. His energetic arrangements spice them up with updated sonic elements, including a bit of thick, dub-influenced sax choir on "Ixmantsikka Dub," heavy drum strikes more fitting a metal band on "Schlichter Bulgar," and speeded-up playing sounding like a soundtrack to Jewish cartoon heroes on "Heyser Bulgar" and "GoGeer."
One of the release's highlights is Malox's beautiful cover of Bluiett's "Neli Kola," misspelled from the late saxophonist's Nali Kola (Black Saint, 1987). Talmudi improvises on the anthemic rhythm and blues theme while Fresthman adds African polyrhythmic drumming in homage to the African percussionists on the original recording. The aggressive "Yalla Gever" and more subdued "Ganelin" (a tribute to the free-spirited pianist/composer Slava Ganelin) feature Talmudi and Freshtman's affinity for the free jazz vocabulary. The closer, "Nishunshinchikon," is a short attempt to compose for sax choir.
One Day is funny and passionate, but a much more nuanced approach would have been preferred over the album's short (fourteen compositions in a bit more than thirty-six minutes) and speeded-up punkish tack.
Track Listing: Ixmantsikka Dub; Der Triske Reben Chosidi; Neli Kola; Schlichter Bulgar; Gotte Morgan Ave.; Heyser Bulgar; Yalla Gever; Mandolinhoff; Ganelin; GoGeer; Berry sis; Harbor Lulaby; March too fast; Nishunshonchikon.
Personnel: Eyal Talmudi: tenor and baritone saxophones, percussion, processed mandolin; Hagai Fresthman: drums.