Yitzhak Yedid: Suite in Five Movements (2008)
With Oud Bass Piano Trio, composer and pianist Yitzhak Yedid continues on his journey of creating his own musical genre. Combining modern composition, ancient prayers and hymns and Middle Eastern folk music with improvisation, Yedid's music manages simultaneously to create strong images and emotions anchored conceptually in place and time, while also floating above it with purely abstract melodies.
The album is structured like the earlier Myth of the Cave (Between the Lines, 2003) and Passions and Prayers (Between the Lines, 2005) in that there are five lengthy movements, giving the overall work a classical feel. Each movement moves through a series of smaller sections, which might be named, adding a programmatic subtext. The music does not, however, need the section names or even the detailed notes at all to be fully appreciated.
Bassist Ora Boasson Horev, who played on the two previous albums, is now joined by oud player Mikhail Maroun. Thus, this recording shares the concept of a trio from Myth of the Cave which features clarinetist Francois Houle, and the more overt religiosity of Passions and Prayers uses a sextet. It feels like a summing up of both musical and non-musical ideas that were present in Yedid's earlier works.
The music is very powerful, almost relentless in its expressiveness. Moving through many sonorities, densities and dynamics, the three players can be heard, individually and as a group, changing roles from improvisers to interpreters and back again. All the while, however, the control of Yedid the composer can be heard as never allowing the proceedings to meander or lose their very sharp direction.
Yedid's masterful musical storytelling is directly engaging, with forms that continually shift and mutate, but which also move inexorably forward. Complex, seemingly chaotic sections are juxtaposed against beautiful hymn-like melodies. The music might descend to the depths sounding like a boiling compressed cauldron, only to open up the next moment, expanding into the clouds.
Horev is a master bassist and in complete control of her instrument. Her arco work, especially in the microtonal sections, is stunning, as is her interplay with Yedid. In her hands, the bass moves from the instrumental to the vocal. The sound of Maroun's oud adds a sense of the ancient desert to the music when he solos or doubles the lines of his band mates.
Oud Bass Piano Trio is a coherent work that is held together by repeated phrases and gestures. Its scale is ambitious and imposing, demanding a concentrated intensity from the listener as well as the players. The reward, however, is great as Yedid presents his uncompromising musical vision, making genre and labels irrelevant.
Track Listing: First Movement; Second Movement; Third Movement; Fourth Movement; Fifth Movement.
Personnel: Mikhail Moroun: oud; Ora Boasson Horev: double-bass; Yitzhak Yedid: piano.