Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Superbly recorded live at Alto Adige Jazz Festival in Bolzano, Italy in June of 2007.
Considering that we just listed some dozen discs (including several box sets) from Mr. Braxton that were released in the past year, I shouldn't have been surprised to find yet another treasure in the mail this week from the fine folks at Rai Trade. Many of the musicians in this fine orchestra are leaders on their own, as well as master instrumentalists. No doubt you should recognize the mighty names like Pino Minafra (CD's on Victo & Leo), Gianluigi Trovesi & Umberto Petrin (ECM, Soul Note & Splasch), Daniele Cavallanti & Tiziano Tononi (Splasch & Long Song) and Carlo Actis Dato (Leo & Splasch).
The Italian Instabile Orchestra are the premiere composers and players orchestra of Italy and feature a most impressive line-up of Italy's finest musicians. Each of their half dozen discs is a marvel of creative playing, impressive composing and constant ingenuity.Their last disc featured the great Cecil Taylor on piano and directing, while this one has the equally engaging Anthony Braxton playing saxes and directing four of his challenging compositions.
Mr. Braxton chose pieces from the earlier part of his long career like Compositions "No. 59 & 63", as well as from the midpoint like Compositions "No. 92 & 164". Listening to these pieces, all appear to challenging in different ways. "Comp. No. 63" opens with dense layers that float around one another gracefully. Braxton is master of constantly shifting sonorities and this orchestra is the perfect vehicle for his various lines to intersect. A number of short yet inspired solos emerge (bari sax, acoustic bass, violin) from the different waves that Braxton conducts. Mr. Braxton's compositions often seem to balanced between written and freer passages, interconnected solos and layers of connected themes. "Composition No. 92" actually swings in a most twisted sort of way and in an unexpected delight complete with strong solos from the trombone and flourishes of other instruments rising and falling into the currents. Umberto Petrin starts "Composition No. 164" with some intense piano, while the other players swirl around him. Different combinations of musicians blend, connect and move around one another cautiously while different harmonies emerge.
No matter how chaotic any one section becomes, there is a constant underlying thread that holds this together. Mr. Braxton makes demands of his musicians and his listeners, both of us must work to hear all of the many wonders that are hidden within this music. Considering that it is only the first week of January, 2009, should we be surprised that we already have a contender for disc of the year!?! [though no doubt not the only one.
The Clarinetist known simply as Yom has made a bold statement with his album New King Of Klezmer Clarinet. Billed as a tribute to Naftule Brandwein, who called himself the King Of Klezmer Clarinet, Yom takes a look at the Klezmer tradition and expands on it, breathing new life and energy into these songs. While paying tribute, Yom shows off his considerable talent playing at lightning-fast tempos and with great intensity. Yom gives a full and sometimes gritty Clarinet sound, but can also back off and give a more impassioned performance.
The songs presented here are some of Brandwein's best known compositions, plus one from Dave Tarras, and three by Yom himself.
Yom plays so many notes on the fast songs that I just follow along with the chord changes, because there is not much straight melody. Don't get me wrong, these are amazing performances, and Yom shows a high degree of virtuosity throughout the album.
It's difficult to pick just one favorite, because I have at least three. I really got into Where Were You Before Prohibition? sometimes known as Sholem's Bulgarish; The Boiling Hot Bulgar with some wild playing on the intro, then right into Der Heyser Bulgar at a blazing tempo; and Cascade Of Sins, also known as Fun Tashlich, with some more great playing, a gritty clarinet tone, and increasing to breakneck speed at the end. Clarinet enthusiasts will really enjoy these tracks.
I have to mention the wonderful sidemen on this album. The first thing I noticed is the awesome Tuba performance by Benoit Giffard, who does an amazing job of keeping up with Yom on the fast tunes. He throws notes out as fast as Yom and manages to keep a rock steady tempo at the same time. I haven't experienced Tuba playing like this before. Just amazing. The other great contribution is by Pianist Denis Cuniot, who is given some nice solo space on The Joyful Wedding andIntroduction, and does a tremendous job accompanying Yom on his wild adventures throughout the album.
The audio quality on the album is excellent. Each instrument is clearly defined, and the Tuba accompaniment, though prominent, never overshadows the soloist. The mix sounded great on everything I played it on, and there was a good punch from the Tuba and Tapan when played through my home theater. Kudos for Engineering/Mixing by Philippe Teissier Du Cros, and Mastering by Raphael Jonin.
The album package is a six panel foldout. There is a full page with biographical information about Brandwein, and a page with track list, band members, and credits. Photos are excellent, and the image of the New King Of Klezmer Clarinet sitting on his throne with his instrument and scepter is both iconic of Yom and a clever marketing strategy.
I find this album to be a great set of Klezmer tunes and is fitting as a tribute to Brandwein. I highly recommend this to those who love innovative Clarinet playing, have a historical interest in the music of Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras, and who enjoy great Klezmer music. Long live Yom!" -AllAboutJazz
Personnel: Yom (clarinet); Benoit Giffard (trombone, tuba); Denis Cuniot (piano); Alexandre Giffard (tapan).
Audio Mixer: Philippe Teissier Du Cros.