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Alon Yavnai: Picture this...

- CD Reviews

Alon Yavnai Picture this…
(See Alon Yavnai Sextet at Fat Cat Jazz Club)

Alon Yavnai on Electric Keyboard and Piano
Special Guest: Paquito D’Rivera on Clarinet and Saxophone
Massimo Biolcati on Acoustic Bass
Take Toriyama on Drums

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 13, 2005

This is a very hot, new CD with mixed funk, Latin, and Middle Eastern music and motifs. Most of the exotic works are composed and arranged by Alon Yavnai and/or his band members (plus one track with classically infused J. S. Bach), as well as by guest artist, Paquito D’Rivera. (See Paquito D’Rivera Tribute at Carnegie Hall).

Notable tracks:

#1 – Blues for Alon – Composed by Massimo Biolcati. With a decided Middle-Eastern, perhaps belly dance introduction, this track exudes an ethereal, exotic effect. Amazingly, within a minute or two, belly dance turns to mambo, and a Latin clave beat resounds, with generous bass solos over faint percussive brushes and undulating keyboard.

#2 – Paquito’s Merengue – Composed by Paquito D’Rivera, Arranged by Alon Yavnai. A melodic piano lead, leads quickly to Paquito on clarinet, with a theme that sounds as Israeli as it sounds Cuban. Yavnai rapidly fills the interludes with a double-fast interpretation of Paquito’s gypsy meringue. One could dance a partnered mambo or a solo bottle dance with a large hat.

#5 – Funk Tango – Composed by Alon Yavnai. With some musical references to Astor Piazzolla, this track is possibly danceable for performance tango, while it fuses quickly to straight jazz. Paquito takes the Latin lead, with eclectic percussion by Toriyama and rhythmic bass by Biolcati, as well as Yavnai’s persuasive piano, as tango morphs into jazz and back to tango, with Paquito returning center-stage.

#10 – Long Time Ago Moses – Composed by Alon Yavnai. Toriyama takes out his collection of bells and shakers, along with every part of every drum, and Yavnai brings us to Turkey, Israel, and beyond. A melody develops with fragmented vocals, bringing the band to full potential, and this track could be a fascinating choreographic score for modern or ethnic dance.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at