CD reviews

CD REVIEW: Ofer Landsberg Quartet – I’ll Be Around

Ofer Landsberg Quartet  I’ll Be Around
(  CD Review by Leonard Weinreich)

Ofer Landsberg started playing the guitar at seven years old. At 17, he traded Tel Aviv for New York, spiritual home of bebop, and began absorbing the atmosphere. When stating his influences, Landsberg dutifully lists the eternal bop patriarchs (Bird, Bud, Dizzy and Monk) but also sneaks in elusive pianist Elmo Hope, signifying hip connoisseurship.

Landsberg has developed into a bebop master, knowledgeable and unashamed to be playing changes. Investing the intricate melodies and irregular accents with his individual inventiveness, articulation and emotional artistry, he refreshes the music and strengthens its relevance. No surprise then, he’s much in demand as a teacher. In this 2018 quartet album, his style is in full bloom, bell-like single tones alternate with fast-flowing legato, each note cleanly stated. The repertoire is off-beat and packed with surprises. The group interaction approaches awesomeness.

Two Dizzy Gillespie compositions, Bebop, a cubist reconstruction of the ‘Rhythm’ changes and Shaw Nuff, based on the chords of Whispering, receive crisp, lithe performances. In contrast, Alec Wilder’s languorous I’ll Be Around is treated as a succession of eloquent sustained guitar tones suspended over a sinuous samba rhythm.

Overdue attention is paid to a couple of fine melodies overlooked by jazz musicians: Some Other Spring (impeccable jazz credentials: composed by Christine Wilson, then wife of piano megastar, Teddy Wilson and memorably recorded by Billie Holiday) features a sensitive contribution from Alex Bryson’s piano. And Be My Love, a 1950 pop ballad, has been unjustly shunned owing to sweaty association with bulky operatic movie star, Mario Lanza.

Audrey was written by Paul Desmond, keen Audrey Hepburn fan and sublime altoist who made Brubeck records bearable. Bassist Dario Di Lecce is faultless. Two more rare songs also appear: a seductive version of Katzman and Sour’s We Could Make Such Beautiful Music Together, with lovely delicate brushwork from Matt Fishwick, and I Can’t Dream Can’t I?, Fain and Kahal’s 1950s hit for Doris Day and the Andrews Sisters (but not together). Who knew it could be an inspiring launchpad for graceful bebop lines? Sportsman’s Hope and the blues Save Some For Later are insinuating toe-tappers. A highly satisfying album.

The Ofer Landsberg Quartet will be appearing in the EFG London Jazz Festival as part of  Bopfest at a lunchtime gig on 24 November at Toulouse Lautrec, 140 Newington Butts, London SE11 4RN.

Track Listing

Be My Love
Save Some for Later
Some Other Spring
I Can Dream Can’t I?
I’ll Be Around
Shaw ‘Nuff
We Could Make Such Beautiful Music Together
Sportman’s Hope

Categories: CD reviews

Leave a Reply