Talinka – Talinka
(Fanfare – FJ1701. CD review by by Sarah Chaplin)
Every now and again you come across a jazz album which dispenses with all the usual features and starts afresh: instrumentation, form, melody, harmony and soloing protocols are all reworked here with simplicity, depth and maturity. The project brings together vocalist Tali Atzmon and her multi-instrumentalist husband, Gilad, with Yaron Stavi on bass, baroque specialist Jenny Bliss on viola da gamba, violin and flute, and on some tracks Frank Harrison on piano, and has created a format in which this newly configured band can explore original material and jazz standards in an appealingly dark and brooding way.
The eponymous opening track is a taut yet delicate interplay between wordless vocals and soprano saxophone, setting the scene for an enticing range of combos that follow: viola and bass clarinet, accordion and piano, voice and bass, bass and bass clarinet. A strong feature of the album is a series of precise rhythmic textures which the vocals can cut across, picking out an unexpectedly fresh melodic line or tonality, breathing new life into songs like the bittersweet Don’t Explain or the elegiac You Don’t Know What Love Is, and moving chamber-like between tangos and baroque flavours. It’s like tasting a very complex malt whisky in which you can sense the landscape it came from and the time taken to reach this moment from its inception. The intensity and topicality of Losing Vision is a particular highlight.
At times, especially when Gilad is playing his soprano, it’s like listening to a pared-down balkanised version of Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble working through some early Piazzola. The provocative, disturbing turns on some solos are artfully balanced by the overall sense of lush restraint. It’s creative without trying too hard, and impressive throughout is the colour and control in evidence in Tali Atzmon’s voice, which bestows an emotional timbre to the band’s offering that is full of tenderness, of warmth touched with sadness.