Daniel Ori: Emuna (2012)
Since moving to New York in 2008, Israeli-born bassist Daniel Ori has labored hard to forge for himself a reputation as one of today's up-and-coming jazz musicians. While certainly an excellent bassist, this winner of the 2009 ASCAP Jazz Composers Award is slowly cementing a reputation as a dynamic composer. His debut as a leader, So It Goes (Art of Life Records, 2010), is a testament to his skills as a writer, which he also confirms in another bold statement, the sophomore effort Emuna. Like his debut, Emuna ("faith," in Hebrew) is a collection of modern jazz sounds, incorporating a blend of Middle Eastern influences with light elements of Latin and African rhythms.
The fresh world-like sounds of Emuna were, no doubt, made easier to produce with the inclusion of fellow countrymen Ziv Ravitz, an internationally recognized drummer adept at performing cross-cultural fusion, Israeli folklore and other music; along with in-demand session guitarist Oz Noy, whose rock-styled riffs provide an edge to some of the material. Ori's quintet also enjoys the instrumental voices of veteran New York saxophonist Mark Turner and producer/pianist Sam Barsh, who also lends his talents on Fender Rhodes and the exotic melodica.
Ori's distinctive sound begins with the brief "Back It Up" and moves right into the intricate "Cyprus," with the sounds of Turner's tenor leading the way until the guitarist weighs in with some sharp riffs of his own, only to withdraw for more tenor magic. Though "This Is Home" reveals a rather dark down-tempo tone, it does offer Ori the first of many expressive solo opportunities throughout the disc, in addition to also allowing pianist Barsh to shine for the first time. The sophistication continues with the modern flair of the title track and resumes with a two-minute introductary solo by the bassist on "Inability To Sleep," before developing its fusion-tinged flavor.
The album yields other challenging material with "Roseland," The Search," and "Shapes" rounding out the repertoire. No one can accuse bassist Daniel Ori of producing a standard jazz project as the music on this album; there's none of the typical swinging jazz sound, soft sweet ballads, vocals or interpretations of oft -recorded jazz standards. Instead, Ori chooses to be different and faithful to his style of music, which is perhaps why the title Emuna is so appropriate. By exploring the boundaries of multiple genres in a non-standard approach, Ori's sophisticated music may well be the kind of sound discerning audiences and aficionados alike can savor.
Track Listing: Back It Up; Cyprus; This Is Home; A Short Story; Emuna; Inability To Sleep; Roseland; The Search; Shapes.
Personnel: Daniel Ori: acoustic bass, electric bass; Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Oz Noy: guitars; Sam Barsh: piano, Fender Rhodes, melodica; Ziv Ravitz: drums, percussion.