Songs of the Metropolis is Gilad’s latest recording with OHE , band he co- founded in London in the 2000 together with Asaf Sirkis (drums), Frank Harrison (piano) and Oli Hayhurst (bass). Only pianist and leader survived from original quartet , which is now powered by new section (Yaron Stavi – bass ; Eddie Hick – drums) since at least 4 years and this seems to be their 8th album as far as I am aware.
It is very interesting concept. Specific tribute to Cities. Places with soul ,which used to have some “Meaning “ in the past musician says. Hence every song is dedicated to One. And every song , what is not so usual in Gilad’s post bob repertoire, is a ballad.
It starts with Paris. Lovely played on soprano tune immediately brings to memory of a cinematic like scenes. Very nostalgic and full of pictures which everyone have seen million times before. Waltz gently shaped with percussion shimmers and piano invocation makes perfect opening.
Following Tel Aviv ,Gilad’s home appears as a marriage of funky rhythm with a Jewish dance theme, but as always with Gilad’s untoward sense of humour, some blues brakes and rich phrasing dialoguing with piano and drums make piece a challenge. Never being in Tel Aviv I can’t comment on how it tastes as I can do with Paris or Berlin, but it certainly sounds like invitation to me.
Following Buenos Aires with dark opening chords on piano and bass Arco bring instantly deep scent of passion to listeners mind. Sax leads melody gently and every note is full of thoughts. This is like looking back notes marching step by step into most intimate memories. Gorgeous melody.
Coming after Vienna seems to be sound almost trivially predictable after such a deposit of emotions we already heard before. But wasn’t it always a city of charm and sweetness ? It is all there. Candy like sweet notes of leaders reed underline it pin point with sweet repetitive motif.
Manhattan brings back memories of America. Not just by order but literally ,being so close to quoting original band’s project holding same title , just without string arrangements which had been a part of it.
Scarborough itself doesn’t bring any images to me, but its leitmotif brings to my mind long forgotten melody of lullaby from my childhood. But meditative score quickly turns into fervent convocation bringing Coltrane like passionate sound to my mind and section and pianist are so close to Trane’s latest quartet like they possibly were never before.
After that Moscow , heavy piece with a serious meaning seems to overlap previous trivia with crush, showing triumph of rich culture and long history over “the unbearable lightness of being” with closing cadence saying that you have to remember it.
After that Somewhere in Italy is like steppingstone. Quiet place where no one can find you .One to dash in and disappear to enjoy life without burden of the past. Sweet promise of freedom with light piano notes and sparkling cymbals shining like sunset just happening in the front of your eyes.
Berlin theme after lasts only a couple of minutes but it brings to your eyes all enjoyment of simple life enchanted in simple gasthaus like feast song with cabaret piano dancing around simple Polka rhythm and sax notes laughing around the silly choruses.
Who said that simple is not most beautiful. But it sounds a bit like Rota’s themes for Fellini ‘s movies and like Ennio Morricone’s monumental scores as well. A bit like John Lurie’s lunatic soundtracks to Jarmush’s crazy stories and like Zorn’s pastiche radical Jewish Culture projects. This makes Gilad’s tribute so unique. As it shows how cultures influenced each other in the past, how ideas were travelling and blending. How everything able to bring enjoyment to people’s life spreads like chicken pox.