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Monday, August 24, 2015

Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble - The Whistle Blower

Since their formation fifteen years ago, The Orient House Ensemble released their eighth album this year entitled, The Whistle Blower. Saxophonist, Accordionist, Guitarist, and controversial figure, Gilad Atzmon (Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Robert Wyatt, Sinead O’Connor, and Paul McCartney. He also performed on Pink Floyd’s farewell album last year entitled, The Endless River) brings Jazz to a whole new level of bringing the essence of John Coltrane into his music that gives it power and sound.

And with this album, in which its released on Atzmon’s label, Fanfare Jazz, and distributed in the states by MoonJune Records, it gives it a Bebop sound that resembles that could have been recorded in 1965. He brought along musicians including Frank Harrison on Keyboards, Piano, and Vocals; Chris Higginbottom on Drums and Vocals; and Yaron Stavi (Mark Wingfield, David Gilmour) on Double Bass, Electric Bass, and Vocals. And guests vocalists Tali Atzmon and Antonio Feola.

In the liner notes, Gilad tells the listener that the compositions are four things, “Love, Nostalgia, Devotion, and Simplicity.” Not to mention the six centerpieces on the album that will make you want to take note on. The opening track Gaza Mon Amour, is an awakening track. It has a middle-eastern sound that at first starts off with a powerful vibration that will make get into the groove for an intense dance, and then the melody smoothly changes into Atzmon’s homage to the late, great John Coltrane. Gilad also shows a mellower side and almost as if he’s giving Kenny G a message on how a real ballad is supposed to sound like to a “T”.

The Romantic Church give Frank Harrison a chance to show a lot of beauty, passion, and tender concepts he would bring to the sound for a slowed-down beat. Frank carries some of the touches of Vince Guaraldi and McCoy Tyner. It’s almost as if he is following in the steps of Vince’s music and taking it into those areas while the 11-minute spiritual composition of Let Us Pray is a wonderful essence and tribute to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme-era.

It’s almost as if Gilad wrote it as a continuation of the classic album and seeing where he wants the members to go into for amazing improvisations between Yaron, Chris, and Gilad himself. He moves into his soprano sax for a calmer side on Forever, but then, he goes into his accordion into the main stage for The Song. You can imagine yourself in 1950s Paris in a Black & White film done by Francois Truffaut, walking around the Seine around Midnight and being moved into the movie inside your head.

Elsewhere, they go into a humoristic touch of the lounge-era as Gilad’s wife Tali, and Antoine Feola doing the vocals on the closing title track. Begins with a spoken French introduction as Tali doing soothing vocalizations in the style of Combustible Edison’s Miss Lily Banquette. It feels like it could have been used in Terry Gilliam’s 1985 Sci-Fi classic, Brazil. But you could tell they are having a blast and not to mention the unexpected moments with wolf whistles, and organ-sound to create the poking fun of easy listening music of the ‘50s and early '60s.

The Whistle Blower is a wonderful and spectacular Jazz album I’ve listened to from start to finish. Since re-discovering Jazz when I was in College studying on my degree in Jazz Studies and falling in love with the music of John Coltrane ten years ago, this is an amazing album that would have the master proud. I have to listened to this about three times now and it is a real return to what Jazz music is all about.

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