“Songbook” presents nine original instrumental jazz songs composed by Israeli pianist and composer Yuval Shay-El. These songs have been part of his ongoing repertoire with various jazz bands for several years. Here they are recorded in a classical jazz piano trio, with the composer on piano joined by two of the most talented Israeli musicians, Omer Ben-Asher on drums and percussion and Valera Lipets on double-bass. The songs are performed in a jazz-standards form including themes (“heads”) and improvisations. The music is influenced by various styles such as swing, bebop, Latin, samba, rock and blues. All styles are creatively blended together into a fresh sound emanating from the personal styles of the musicians and their collaboration.
The CD is dedicated to Tami and Amit, Yuval’s wife and newborn son.
About the songs:
The CD opens with “Elementary” a medium-speed swing tune based on a simple (elementary) melodic phrase. The improvisation section includes a piano solo followed by a bass solo and concludes with solo trading between the piano and the drums before returning to the primary tune.
“Charles River” is a slow jazz waltz inspired by the tranquility and peacefulness of this Bostonian river. Another version of this song appeared on the CD of Atmos Trio “One song, one dance” (2001).
“Roving” is a fast samba-like tune, roving between three scales (D-minor, F-minor and Ab-major) and ending on a fourth one, B-major. It introduces drummer Omer Ben-Asher in a congas solo.
“Mitsy” is a slow and groovy song, with some funk and reggae flavors.
“Morocco Trane” is a fast tune in a triplet rhythm somewhat alluding to both the way John Coltrane used to play waltzes and the way triplet rhythms are used in North African music.
“Jiggle Blues” uses a blues shuffle rhythm but in a non-traditional twenty-two-bar harmonic form.
“Fragile Love” is a slow and dreamy ballad. This piece, one of the oldest members of Yuval Shay-El’s songbook, was first recorded in 1994 in a version for trumpet.
“Little Spring Rock” is a happy slow rock song for the beginning of spring, somewhat inspired by some of Keith Jarrett’s recordings in the 70s. An earlier recording of this piece was the opening track on the CD of Atmos Trio “One song, one dance” (2001).
The final song is “You Don’t Say”, a fast song in a salsa-like rhythm.
About the musicians:
Yuval Shay-El (b. 1963), is a multidisciplinary creator, composer, pianist, trumpet player and physicist, who lives in Israel. He owns a master’s degree in music composition from Boston University where he studied composition with Lucas Foss and Charles Fussell and a PhD in geophysics from Tel-Aviv University. As a jazz musician, he has performed for over 20 years with several bands on both trumpet and piano. His modern-classical compositions were performed in Boston and in Israel by prestigious ensembles, including Musica-Nova Consort and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Series, and were broadcast on leading Israeli radio stations. His recent composition is Symphony No. 1 for symphonic orchestra in four movements (duration ca. 48 minutes). At the same time he pursued an active career as a scientist with publications in some of the major scientific journals. Among his recorded CDs, recommended are “Summer ’97” (1998), a nocturnal jazz piano-guitar duet, “One Song One Dance” (2002), with the Atmos Trio, and “Yuval Shay-El” (2006, available on cd-baby site), which includes original compositions for various chamber ensembles, thus revealing a completely different facet of the music of Yuval Shay-El.
Drummer Omer Ben-Asher was born in the Israeli town of Rehovot in 1965. His first "musical experience" was recorder lessons in school, which didn''t contribute much. During the years his love to music grew. At first, passively – he knew the song charts by heart - but about the age of 15 he fell in love with the drums. A dream that started as playing with pencils on books and notebooks became reality a year later with his first drum set (Halilit – which didn''t last long). Meanwhile, his musical taste changed and he began listening to more progressive music and later to jazz. Even his induction to the army didn''t stop his progress. On his vacations he took lessons with David Rich (his most influential teacher) at the "Metronome" drums school where he taught later. Omer continued to study and teach drums while completing his B.A in agronomy at the Faculty of Agriculture. Then he completed a year at "Rimon". He also started learning percussion with Avi Tsarfati (a real experience). In 1994 he performed on cable TV in a Natan Yonatan''s songs program. In the same year he performed at the Arad Festival with Ronit Ofir and a year later in the Kleizmer Festival in Zefat with Eyal Sela. In 1996, he performed on channel 2 (Dan Margalit) with Timna Breuer & Eli Meiri, and a year later at the Abu Gosh music festival with the Vocal octet. In the same year he also wrote his score book BASIC RHYTHM PATTERNS with which he teaches till this day. Since then Omer has played at different rock and especially jazz groups. Worth noting is his performance in 2003 with Dori Ben Zeev at the Red sea jazz festival. In 2007, he performed at the Haifa movie festival. Nowadays Omer lives in Binyamina with his family – Michal, his wife, Elad & Adi, his children.
Bassist and composer Valeri Lipets is a mult-talented musician who plays bass and double bass on stage and in recordings. He graduated from the Academy of music in double-bass and participated in numerous jazz projects in Israeli jazz festivals and abroad, including jazz festivals in Europe and the USA (Prague, Amsterdam, Kaunas, Liepzig, Eureka, Sacramento), Eilat Jazz Festivals in 1998 with In-Out Project, and in 2000 and 2002 with Eight Till Late band.
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