Oran Etkin – “Gathering Light”


Oran Etkin - "Gathering Light"Gathering Light, the new release by Oran Etkin, is an album with some odd turns and sharp angles, but with a predilection to express itself with a song-like lyricism.  So even when the tempos shift gears like cars caught in downtown rush hour traffic and the melodies behave like pedestrians darting between them, Etkin is singing out on reeds with the light and simple grace of a singer-songwriter.  An outstanding cast joins Etkin for this session, and a big part of the album’s intrigue is hearing how the artists, each armed with their own established sound, come together and get it all to mesh.  This feat is especially impressive in the context that Etkin brings an additional variable to the table by composing songs reflecting the folk music originating from past tour stops.

There’s the Indo-jazz hypnotic groove of “Gambang Suling” and also the spry melodic gaiety of “Taxi Dance” that shifts back and forth between a Middle-East and a New Orleans Southern jazz invocation.  From Etkin’s Japanese tour stop, the passive melancholy of “Takeda (Homesick Blues)” is one easily shaken off by applying some simple blues heat.  On the other hand, the Israeli song “Shirim Ad Kan” has a sadness far more entrenched and not so easily cast aside.  And then there are tracks like “All I Want To Do Is Dance” and “Scattering Light,” which present qualities that seem borne from a jazz melting pot like New York City.

One of those enjoyable albums that does a lot of the little things right, and as a result pulls of a pretty big success.

Your album personnel:  Oran Etkin (tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Ben Allison (bass), Lionel Loueke (guitar, vocals), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), and Nasheet Waits (drums).

Released on Motema Music.

Jazz from NYC.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon CD | Amazon MP3



Some of this review was used originally in the weekly new jazz releases column I write for eMusic via Wondering Sound, so here’s some language protecting their rights to the reprinted material as the one to hire me to write about new jazz arrivals to their site…

“New Arrivals Jazz Picks,“ reprints courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
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As always, my sincere thanks to eMusic for the gig.