Oz Noy Trio – Asian Twistz: Live in Asia
(Abstract Logix ABLX048. CD review by Rob Mallows)
The nine tracks of Israeli-born, New-York based guitarist Oz Noy’s new album are from three dates on a recent Asian tour. They were recorded with drummer Dave Weckl’s Mac laptop with minimal gear, and with no plans at the time for release.
Oz Noy crosses a number of genres and, through his use of pedals and effects, clearly aims to mark himself out as a bold new voice in jazz-fusion and blues guitar. Any album with titans Dave Weckl on drums and Etienne Mbappe on bass (recently of John McLaughlin’s 4th Dimension) has got to be worth a listen. Mbappe may be slightly subdued at times – though always technically brilliant, and Weckl’s power and rhythmic innovation stand out consistently.
Many of the tracks were featured on Noy’s recent two-volume Twisted Blues, an exploration and deconstruction of the blues sound. Rhumba Tumba is an up-beat number that makes up in gusto what it lacks in any sense of innovative melodic stylings. Whole Tone Blues, though basic in structure, makes frequent use of the aforesaid whole tone scale to add a different soundscape on top of a basic 4/4 shuffle blues rhythm on which Mbappe and Weckl are as solid as iron girders. Weckl spars well with Noy on the drums/guitar intro of Downside Up, where Noy’s use of bend and pedals does stretch out his guitar sound somewhat, augmenting his complex and often explosive playing style; when Mbappe drops into the mix after a couple of minutes, this tracks pops up another level.
Perhaps the best track on the album is track eight, the Eddie Harris–penned Freedom Jazz Dance, popularised by Miles Davis’s 1966 recording. Here you can see the real potential this group: a guitar trio sound that is much more than run-of-the-mill and players who combine so instinctively and improvise so well, they have given us an album which successfully captures the band’s live show, with uncluttered sound of studio quality.
Only Slow Grease significantly improves on the studio-recorded version, to my ear. The difference is the extra “tension” that Dave adds to it.