Album Remarks & Appraisals:
For the last twelve years, maverick, award-winning saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and his Orient House Ensemble have been touring all over the world, stunning audiences with firebrand performances packed with drama, pathos, luscious harmonies and wit. Songs of the Metropolis, Atzmon's second release for the World Village label, offers a sweeping homage to the world's great cities, from Moscow to Buenos Aires and beyond. Each tune is at once reminiscent and hopeful; in a time of great uncertainty and turbulence, Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble deliver melodies that provide an anchor to wherever it is that we call home.
The Jazz Mann
Arguably the collection's stand out piece is "Scarborough", a ten minute piece that extemporises on the folk melody of "Scarborough Fair" with Atzmon indelibly stamping his own identity on his source material. The music grows from a delicate sax/piano intro, gradually escalating through increasingly intense modal patterns to embrace full blooded sax wailing in the manner of John Coltrane. The intensity then wanes before rising again through an increasingly expansive and equally brilliant Harrison piano solo before the piece resolves itself with a lyrical restatement of the theme...
"Somewhere in Italy" ("but not too far from home") is full of pastoral lyricism with delightful solos from Atzmon and Harrison but there's still fire in Atzmon's playing. Overall this may be OHE's most reflective and openly beautiful album to date but it is emphatically not bland. By allowing himself to relax and to soften his attack Atzmon has produced his most mature, and in many ways his most diverse, work to date. My promo copy doesn't make clear who is responsible for the production but the sound is immaculate throughout with Harrison's piano sounding particularly lustrous. ... read more ...
Personnel: Gilad Atzmon (vocals, accordion, clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Frank Harrison (vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, harmonium, synthesizer, glockenspiel); Yaron Stavi (vocals, double bass); Eddie Hick (vocals, drums).
Audio Mixers: George Murphy ; Philip Bagenal.
Recording information: Eastcote Studio, London (09/30/2012-10/02/2012).