…a compelling album from a musician who is still a relative newcomer to the imprint, but who is not afraid to lead from the front.

ECM 2821 / 651 4241(CD) & 651 6314 (LP)

Oded Tzur (tenor saxophone); Nitai Hershkovits (piano); Petros Klampanis (double bass); Cyrano Almeida (drums)

Recorded November 2023

What immediately impresses with this latest chapter in Tzur’s tenure with ECM is the constant and consistent development. From the brief opening ‘Epilogue’ with its piercing and projected tenor cries we are led into the first of five new compositions by the saxophonist that each take their time to evolve.

‘Child You’ has a powerful theme statement and the quartet play with a familiarity and abandon that is truly liberating. Tzur takes a solo on this that reaches dramatic and impassioned heights, and it is noticeable how he is refining and making more use of a vocalised tone on the tenor saxophone that is an individual and the breathy whispered sound that we heard on his label debut Here Be Dragons.

The hushed tenor playing however has not disappeared and Tzur uses the contrasting methods of expressing his ideas to let his music unravel and reveal the depths hidden within. The beautiful rubato ballad ‘Renata’ has the saxophonist playing gentle lines against the bass lines of Klampanis  and the delicate brushwork of Almeida before the tenor sound swells increasing the tension before the music drops back to a spaciousness that is surreptitiously occupied by pianist Hershkovits in a spellbinding dialogue with bass and drums.

The music moves in and out of tempo, and the quartet move with an assurance that is beguiling, with the album’s title track keeps things low key throughout building a delicious tension through a minimalist approach. Each note and gesture are given up almost reluctantly by the rhythm as Tzur plays his most reverential solo of the set. Deeply profound and lyrical tenor playing, with the control displayed in the extremes of register adding to the mesmerising quality of the music. As Tzur concludes his solo, Hershkovits takes over with a contribution that is equally as sparse and telling with much use of space between the notes.

With the tension building almost to breaking point, Tzur closes the album with ‘Last Bike Ride In Paris’ which is melodically and rhythmically the most dynamic and animated composition heard thus far. Hershkovits’s manipulation of the rhythmic motif in the structure of the piece is fascinating and leads into a solo a solo that bubbles along joyfully. Tzur too is in a playful mood, and his juggling of rhythmic phrases has some declamatory soling from the tenorist.

The quartet have constantly shown how they are able to juxtapose different musical idioms from the broiling intense rhythm of jazz to the meditative quality of Indian classical music. The newest recruit, drummer Cyrano Almeida, plays to a different beat than his predecessor and it his pulse that brings a new feel to the group enabling them to explore the ’freedom in the discipline’ as Tzur says as a way of explaining the way in which the quartet approach each composition.

Once again, a compelling album from a musician who is still a relative newcomer to the imprint, but who is not afraid to lead from the front.