David Ashkenazy: Out With It (2009)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Some music defies description. In the case of drummer David Ashkenazy's Out With It, words can hardly do justice to the varied moods and sounds of this eight-song set.
Ashkenazy studied piano and guitar at age nine and later learned to play the drums. His varied musical tastes include reggae, blues, rock, bluegrass, and jazz. A California native now residing in New York, Ashkenazy performs in a wide range of musical environments, associating with many other musicians, including his sidemen, saxophonist Joel Frahm, guitarist Gilad Hekselman, and organist Gary Versace.
"Dadi-Yo" is one of two original songs in the set. It starts with a spacy organ solo, joined by sax, guitar, and drums. Frahm and Hekselman blend in the lead before splitting. Frahm then performs a freely expressive solo. He begins subtly, but soon builds in intensity, mixing in several high-speed phrases, including a climactic wave. After a repeat of the melody, Hekselman enjoys a solo of his own. Guitar and sax then take off in different directions, bringing back the off-worldly mood that began the song.
The ensemble presents an eclectic take on The Beatles' "I Want You," which goes through many moods and styles. Guitar and sax blend during its bluesy opening; the song then shifts to a swinging jazz style, with Hekselman delivering a Wes Montgomery-style solo. Ashkenazy throws in some snare and tom rolls in the background. The music seemingly comes to a stop, but that's only a ruse to set up Versace's solo; while the organ is the center of attention, the guitar and drums remain quite busy. After another faux ending, the song shifts again, this time leading to Frahm's tenor solo, as he screams with emotion during some of its higher phrases. Throughout, the background players are heavily involved.
Though Ashkenazy wrote only two of the tracks here, he and his sidemen treat the entire project as though they created it. The solos are excellent, but the background players do plenty to be noticed. The quartet is solid as a unit, but each player gets to demonstrate individuality.
Track Listing: Children of the Night; Dadi-Yo; Simone; I Want You; Bokserboym; Zoology; Strange Meeting; Too Young to Go Steady.
Personnel: David Ashkenazy: drums; Joel Frahm: saxophone; Gilad Hekselman: guitar; Gary Versace: organ.
Record Label: Posi-Tone Records