By John Stevenson
‘Born in Parallel’ (33Records), Daphna Sadeh’s brilliant new CD, threads together the worlds of jazz improvisation, European baroque, classical music influences as well as Arabic and Jewish rhythmic traditions. Daphna, a double bassist and composer born in Israel, has been exposed to a pot pourri of musical genres from an early age.
The new recording, a four part orchestral suite (‘Earth’, ‘Fire’, ‘Water’, ‘Air’), is orchestrated by Sadeh and acclaimed conductor, David Murphy, who has had the distinction of working in non-European classical settings with renowned Indian sitarists Ravi and Anoushka Shankar. On ‘Born in Parallel’, thirteen musicians playing a delightful mixture of horns, flute, strings and percussion, are brought together under Murphy’s inspired baton.
The string section provides an alternately warm, uplifting and fiery pocket for the inspired improvisational flights of fancy across various parts of the suite. Buoyed by Daphna’s insistent and supportive bass playing, trombonist Mark Bassey comes over like a young Curtis Fuller swinging with Art Blakey and the Messengers. Oudist Frank Moon channels the North African lute traditions mirrored in the work of exponents such as Said Chraiby.
The sonic palette of ‘Earth’, dominated by stirring strings, has a somewhat pastoral feel. ‘Fire’ is marked by a strong North African/Mediterranean sensibility. ‘Water’ is fluidly meditative, while ‘Air’ retains a fresh and uncluttered quality.
Bassey, Moon, and flute/soprano saxophone maestro Stewart Curtis, are in fact members of The Voyagers, the Daphna Sadeh-led ensemble which also brings together jazz improvisation with baroque, klezmer and sweetly swinging textures. Their last CD, ‘Reconciliation’, was released on John Zorn’s Tzadik imprint in 2009. Stewart Curtis’s flute solos always have a bird-like, Dolphy-esque quality, which leaves an unmistakeable impression on the listener.
That said, it is Daphna’s strong compositions and performance which nails everything in ‘Born in Parallel’ to the floor, so to speak, in the impressive arco and pizzicato technique she employs across her triumphant and elegantly sweeping suite.
As Daphna explains on the sleeve notes to the CD:
“‘Born in Parallel’ is a personal journey that transcends over centuries of musical history created in different parts of the world. My vision was to create a common ground for these diverse cultural and musical genres, a space for a dialogue between languages of music originating from east and west, each one resonating in its own heritage and tradition”.
Without doubt, she has wonderfully succeeded in achieving her artistic ambition.