Noam Wiesenberg - Roads Diverge

Label: Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records, 2018

Personnel – Immanuel Wilkins: saxophone, clarinet; Philip Dizack: trumpet; Shai Maestro: piano; Noam Wiesenberg: acoustic bass; Kush Abadey: drums + guest Dayna Stephens: tenor saxophone.

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Hailing from Tel Aviv, Noam Wiesenberg is a reliable bassist who has been a stalwart in New York, the city where he moved after graduating from Berklee in 2010. For his debut album, he surrounded himself with likes such as trumpeter and co-producer Philip Dizack, saxophonist/clarinetist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Shai Maestro, and drummer Kush Abadey. Tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens makes a single appearance on the title track, “Roads Diverge”, delivering a categorical solo in a tune that also gleams with provocative snare drum rolls and deep-toned piano motions promenading hand in hand with the bass.

Prelude” opens the record with dismayed synth harmonies and lustrous bass resolutions atop, preparing the way that leads to “Resfeber”, whose title refers to an untranslatable Swedish word. Brimming with keen musical ideas and a dashing tempo feel, this number starts with solitary drums, after which Maestro sails in melodic waters for a while until the horn section brings their splendor, agitating the trip. The pianist then expresses his thoughts individually, whereas Dizack and Wilkins empathically share an improvisational timeframe, revealing enthusiasm and stimulating their linguistic capacities. Abadey is impeccable throughout, placing unexpected beats with aesthetic impact.

They follow the same rule on “Where Do We Go From Here”, blowing in and out with a zigzagging post-bop force over a sturdy harmonic progression that comprises a minimal amount of chords. Everything is well anchored in Wiesenberg’s groovy walks. 

The stupendous groove in eleven attained in “Davka” favors the bluesy cruises of Maestro, who returns later for the final vamp. With excitement and power, the band melds the musculature of rock with the malleability of today’s jazz.

Two of the nine tunes smite us with balladic reflections: “Shir Le’Shir”, a silken tone poem positively affected by the potency of Wilkins’ phrasing, and Radiohead’s pop song “The Tourist”, orchestrated by the bandleader alone with multiple layers of bass, both in its arco and pizzicato forms.

Being about the power of choice and making choices, Roads Diverge shows enough assertiveness for us to conclude that Wiesenberg has made the right ones. His upright bass holds down the desirable amount of esprit to make each listening experience a gratifying, fun ride.

        Grade  A-

       Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Resfeber ► 03 - Shir Le’Shir ► 04 - Where Do We Go From Here