Gilad Atzmon & Orient House Ensemble: Songs of the Metropolis

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COMPOSERS: Gilad Atzmon & the Orient House Ensemble
LABELS: World Village
ALBUM TITLE: Gilad Atzmon & Orient House Ensemble: Songs of the Metropolis
WORKS: Songs of the Metropolis
PERFORMER: Gilad Atzmon (sax), Frank Harrison (piano), Yaron Stavi (bass)
CATALOGUE NO: 450024

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With this collection of lithe, witty compositions, Atzmon pays tribute to some great world cities, including ‘Berlin’, ‘New York’, his birthplace ‘Tel Aviv’ and, er, ‘Scarborough’, which provides the pretext for an epic, mood-shifting re-tread of ‘Scarborough Fair’. Although the Orient House Ensemble is on superb form, some of Atzmon’s fans may feel initial disappointment at the restrained surface of some tracks.

Several albums and numerous gigs have accustomed us to fiery, edgy, often confrontational work, but he has indicated that this angry turbulence had in fact become a comfort zone, so he felt the need to move into new territory. ‘Paris’ provides a slightly schmalzy opening, but Atzmon’s sumptuous chalumeau clarinet tone is a delight. A nod to Sidney Bechet via Acker Bilk, perhaps, and the funky, rhythmically-sophisticated ‘Tel Aviv’ demonstrates that Atzmon’s soprano sound is also one of the most satisfying since Bechet.

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Barry Witherden