Label /Year: Jazz Family, 2017
Lineup - Uri Gurvich: tenor and soprano saxophone; Leo Genovese: piano; Peter Slavov: bass; Francisco Mela: drums.
Born in Israel from Argentine parents and now based in New York, alto saxophonist and composer Uri Gurvich demonstrates a high level of maturity on his new outing, Kinship, the third, and probably the most accomplished, of his career. Gurvich’s previous works, The Storyteller and BabEl, were released on John Zorn’s Tzadik Records, and with them, he proved to possess the remarkable ability to merge Israeli traditional folk elements with the hard-hitting post-bop current.
Kinship, a very strong and meaningful word, is associated not only with his roots and family (the record is dedicated to his grandmothers) but also to his reliable longtime quartet, whose members: Leo Genovese on piano, Peter Slavov on bass, and Francisco Mela on drums, accompany him for a decade.
“Song For Kate”, dedicated to Gurvich’s wife, accentuates a Latin touch in the beat while thriving with ever-shifting harmonies and oriented melodic drives.
Rich in colors and flying with a 6/8 Latin groove, “Dance of the Ñañigos” loses the initial Afro-Cuban feel when Genovese starts to improvise with a more bluesy feel. Afterward, as the rhythm section sustains the pressure, Gurvich talks overtly, unveiling his sophisticated technique through a well-articulated phraseology. The piece doesn’t end without a lively conversation between the bandleader and the pianist as they start trading licks. They repeat the trading scene on “Hermetos”, a vibrant homage to the Brazilian wizard Hermeto Pascoal.
A great part of the album is heavily influenced by different cultures, roots, and folk traditions. For instance, “El Chubut” is a politically-charged, Latin-infused vagary, featuring the voice and the words of the special guest, Bernardo Palombo, while Sasha Argov’s “Im Tirtzi” is a tender and popular Israeli love song that fits between a bolero and a jazz standard. Another song composed by Argov, “Ha’Im Ha’Im”, is introduced by Slavov’s bass licks and boasts the pugnacious musicality of Genovese and Gurvich, who blow everything away with a kick-ass attitude and galloping resolution. “Twelve Tribes”, featuring Mela’s chivalrous rhythmic charges in a vamp reserved for his abilities, as well as “Blue Nomad”, are Eastern jamborees offering an array of motivic ideas taken from the Coltrane compendium.
“Go Down Moses” moves like a curvy roller coaster and mixes McCoy Tyner’s modal expansions with the spiritual improvisational eloquence of Coltrane and Kenny Garrett. The inside/outside approach adopted by Gurvich on soprano in addition to the vocals, reminisces Billy Harper’s blatant African rituals. This delirious pronouncement contrasts with the delicate concordance of the title track, which feeling loose, brings no strings attached in its yearning.
Kinship is a mature, multicultural, and urgent album from an underrated saxophonist who will certainly attract all the attention to himself after these rapturous compositions become fully exposed. Excluding blurry tactics and relying on luxurious yet unpretentious sonic architectures, Gurvich, an adventurous voice in the post-Coltranean fashion, is the man to follow.
02 - Dance of the Ñañigos ► 04 - Twelve Tribes ► 06 - Go Down Moses