So Far (BJU Records; 2011)
Shal Maestro (piano)
Jmaes Wylie (sax, clarinet)
Avri Borochov (bass)
Ziv Ravitz (drums)
Steve Brickman (sax)
Itamar Borochov (trumpet)
For some reason, I've been really enjoying a lot of the guitar albums I listened to over the last few months. The obvious stand outs have been Mary Halvorson and Travis Reuter. But each album I've heard has its own amazingly moments that have me coming back again and again. The debut album from Nadav Remez, So Far (BJU Records) is one of those albums--surprising and rewarding. Subtle. Beautiful. And gets into your psyche after a couple of spins.
The arrangements on So Far play while tightly woven, still manage to give space to the musicians, allowing them to create some beautiful and encompassing passages. The ensemble really moves as a unit. Even Remez seems a member, allowing his group to speak for itself not as group of session musicians following its leader.
"Pinchas" sets out providing the ethereal space the album is laid in. The movements are free and Nadav provides a soft guide map for his mates to follow. James Wylie and Steve Brickman both give "Pinchas" an added element of punch when needed. "Last Exile" a tune Remez describes as a conversation about the time after wars is delightful and does has a "dream journey" quality to it. It's a song of hope. The group have time to expand and stretch a bit with this composition. Remez and Brickman's exchanges are boisterous but provide the much needed dialogue for the conversation.
"Untitled" sees Maestro moving to organ which gives the track a grittier feel. Ravitz and Borochov both move the rhythm along with some stellar patterns on drums and plucking of the bass. Remez's has a lovely mastery of his instrument. For me it was reminiscent of some of the better Pat Metheny works. "From Above" is a relaxing ballad written for Remez's late grandmother. It really shines with the interchanges between Maestro and Remez. This group has played together in various forms. So it would be expected that they are comfortable with each other and know the others movements. "From Above" is a group working in and around different structures and timings. The piece moves up and down in tempo but remains a ballad in spirit. And an emotionally effect one at that.
So Far closes with another tribute, "Susu" written for Remez's grandfather. It's a solo piece that combines both Remez's improvising and song structure in a very intimate setting. The material carved out on So Far really is rich, thoughtful and altogether beautiful to experience. It really requires a few spins before ever songs sinks in and has an emotional impact on you. Remez spent a good time under the studying and playing along some great musicians in Boston and New York after moving to the States from Israel just over five years ago. With So Far, Nadav Remez has shown himself to be an emerging talent on guitar in addition to being a well structured leader. This is one of those silent albums that you will returned to over and over again...