Trio Shalva's debut recordingRiding Alone (Self Produced, 2011)captured a band at the dawn of its being. Yes, the group had formed in 2009, two calendar years before that album was released, but the music for that record was recorded in 2010, presenting a band that was basically just starting on its way. Now comes Breeza, the second leg of the trio's Judaica jazz journey.
While Trio Shalva basically makes its art through the fusion of Middle Eastern tones and Jewish ideals with jazz language and intent, it doesn't limit itself in terms of musical and geographical dividing lines. This outfit is just as likely to graft calypso-esque gaiety and soca grooves onto music with Hebraic origins ("Mizmor Laila") as it is to play things out in straight(er) fashion. Pianist Assaf Gleizner has no problem tossing off twinkling lines and a Cuban aside before going to post-bop places ("Ba LaShehuna Bahur Hadash"), bassist/oudist Koby Hayon has a completely different character on each instrument, and drummer Nadav Snir-Zelniker balances the fluid and firm in all of his work. When these personalities merge, they create a unique blend that gives Trio Shalva its identity.
Originals, new interpretations of traditional songs, an expansive take on a Beatles classic ("Eleanor Rigby"), and a Björk favorite ("Bachelorette") all sit comfortably next to one another, united through the language(s) spoken by these three men. Introspection has its place here, as does aggression, but no single mood dominates. The trio can get feisty and fresh, delivering music that's wholly coherent and firmly structured, yet quirky and somewhat disjointed ("Ani Godin"), but it's also capable of staying a mesmerizing course with melodica and oud in the picture ("Yad Anuga").
Riding Alone was a pleasing debut, but Breeza is a notch above it. The years between the two records have only helped to deepen the connection between these three men.
Track Listing: Mizmor Laila; Hatzot; Ad Olam Ahake; Ba LaShehuna Bahur Hadash; Yad Anuga; Eleanor Rigby; Ani Godin; Isabella; Bachelorette.