Down Beat (p.91) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "His unaccompanied pieces express themselves primarily through sensitive manipulations of tempo, rubato and pedaling, never through careless or excessive display."
JazzTimes (p.120) - "TRAVEL NOTES is genuinely pretty. Yavnai celebrates the sweet, pristine, elemental melodicism found in Israeli songs."
Global Rhythm (Publication) (p.50) - "[H]e explores a multi-faceted dreamworld that delivers on multiple levels, whether it's steeped in nostalgia for home or in the serpentine rhythms of the Caribbean."
Alon Yavnai's second recording as a leader reflects his heritage as a native Israeli, as he plays music with a spiritual base that is brought into modern times. There are distinct parallels between Yavnai's music and that of Avishai Cohen, Sam Barsh, Fahir Atakoglu, and Plamen Karadonev in that their foundation lies in their ethnic roots, with jazz as a melodic, but not rhythmic inspiration. Percussionist Jamey Haddad has a lot to do with his, as he employs hands or brushes on drums only -- no sticks. Bassist Omer Avital is also oriented more in a world fusion than mainstream jazz manner, yet the elements of blues and improvisation are freely utilized. What is most striking about Yavnai's music is the sheer imagery he conjures. The title track evokes an arid journey through the Middle East, with Avital playing a little oud. Both "Bayit" and "Yakinton" are based on children's songs, the former in a darker, mysterious mood, the latter in a Biblical folkish hum-along. Yavnai plays solo piano on "Yakinton," the modified, free and traditional lullaby "Numi Numi," a minimalist and beautiful love song "Shir Ahava Tari," and the pensive tribute to Take Toriyama "Sof." Haddad is a master of multi-ethnic idioms, but shines in the Jewish and Arabic derived musics with his spare, shaded accents, shuffling along during "Yoman." He urges the trio to establish and dissipate loose liquid phrases in 6/8 during "Yonatan," and during the album's best effort "Ilha B'nit" the collective triad both infers soul and spirit in a mode that suggests the slightest fine line of dance music. Yavnai is a wondrous, eminently listenable and accessible player, easily appealing to fans of the aforementioned artists, as well as Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Robert Glasper. The development of his music, and how far he advances it, is part of a journey well worth taking for those interested in hopping on board. That you don't know Alon Yavnai's name is irrelevant -- he is playing great, fresh and original contemporary music that you absolutely need, whether you realize it or not. ~ Michael G. Nastos