|Ice and Fire from Odessa/Havana
Horseradish doesnt bother me anymore. I put big heaping spoons of it on my gefilte fish and never break a sweat but add a little hot pepper and Im diving for the nearest snowdrift. Add some Cuban spice to old-world Klezmer and a similar effect ensues. Odessa/Havana is hot.
I wondered how it would work. Odessa likes the downbeat, while Havana barely touches it. Dancing in Havana involves ample use of the hips, while in Odessa, the hips are convenient for joining together the legs while twirling in circles with ones family and in-laws. Frankly, Im not yet sure how to dance to the fusion of the two, but I do know how to listen to it.
With the poignancy of bitter-sweet klezmer inflections up front and centre in David Buchbinders melodies, the emphases all shift around the displaced beats of new-world bass lines. Indeed, Cuban rhythms have the upper hand in this album, although the time-signature contortions liberally sprinkled throughout are more traditionally Eastern European. Everyones encountering some unaccustomed spice here. One defining element of the Odessa flavour thats missing, though, is the labyrinthine harmonic trail through relative keys thats facilitated by the traditional scale. Those moments of shifting can certainly be cathartic, and their absence made the over-all feel of the album lean heavily towards the Cuban side a side where some masterful playing went down. Hilario Duran is a monster of skill and sensitivity both in his comping and his solo work. I would expect no less of Buchbinder than to nail the idiomatic solo trumpet work, but it was an extra pleasure to hear Quinsin Nachoff on reeds wailing in the best oy-vey feel right along with him.
In point of fact, every member of the band was stellar. Alexsander Gajic was flawlessly tuned and timed, and had the taste and sense to enjoy even the lower register of the violin. The rhythm section locked together like a bone in a joint, and with talent like Roberto Occhipinti, Mark Kelso, Rick Lazar, Dafnis Prieto, and Jorge Luis Torres on the team, who could be surprised?
Count on it, Ill figure out how to dance to this music.
by Tova G. Kardonne January 2008