I was immediately impressed with the interplay between Joray and drummer Jeff Ballard.
Silvan Joray – Guitar; Nadav Erlich – Bass; Jeff Ballard – Drums
Swiss guitarist Silvan Joray, now based in New York, Is releasing his second album as leader. He’s won many awards in his home country of Switzerland. He’s performed at many of the top jazz festivals. He’s toured in Germany, Norway, Poland, Spain, and Israel.
He started out studying acoustic classical guitar but fell in love with jazz and switched to the electric guitar. Wes Montgomery was an early influence and while studying at Jazzcampus in Basel Joray started composing his own music. Joray composed seven of the tunes on UPDRAFT.
I was immediately impressed with the interplay between Joray and drummer Jeff Ballard. Ballard has played with Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, and others. Listening to the rapport shared by Joray and Ballard is electrifying. There are a few YouTube videos of songs from UPDRAFT. Watch them and you’ll see what I mean.
Nadav Erlich’s big bass sound is what you first hear on ‘Kokodrillo, the opening track. He duets with Ballard until we hear Joray’s guitar play some upbeat straight-eighth grooves. There’s more of the same on‘ Kaeppelview.’
Title track ‘Updraft ’has a lot of energy. Joray uses quarter-tones; intervals that fall between the 12-tone octave. Joray bends the strings or slides between notes to get the pitch he wants. Another technique he likes is tapping. Rock guitarists popularized this. The strings get tapped with their fingertips which can produce a percussive rapid string of notes.
Joray uses a sharp concise attack. His guitar has a metallic tone with not a lot of sustain. Erlich and Joray are a good match. When Erlich plays bass he attacks it. His tone is hard. It’s almost harsh.
‘At Long Last Love ’is a Cole Porter song from 1938. Joray plays it straight. He lets his Wes Montgomery influence show beautifully. Ballard keeps up a rockin’, rollin’, feel-like-you’re-on-slow-moving-train-ride vibe. After some inventive improv and a lot of tasty tapping the song fades away.
Andrew Hill’s ‘Subterfuge ’from 1964 is the other non-Joray composition. In Hill’s hands it was a forceful piano piece with a lot of jagged lines. The guitarist plays the piano part but he does a fantastic job at making the tune his own. Erlich’s bass playing is very impressive on this cut as well.
My only complaint about UPDRAFT is I think Silvan Joray tries too hard. He really likes playing a lot of notes. A lot of songs are very high intensity. He should relax. His Cole Porter cover proves he can play pretty. He should do more.