You might be fooled, by the playful waltz that opens this set's portrayal of Vienna, or by the solemnly marching chords introducing Moscow, into thinking that volatile reeds virtuoso Gilad Atzmon has grown tired of fighting battles and finally opted for the expected. But it's Atzmon, and he doesn't do expected – tensions, surprises, shocks and ambiguities are a lot more interesting. Concentrating on clarinet and soprano sax, and inviting equal participation from his three Orient House Ensemble partners, Atzmon draws the Paris romance toward more dangerous emotions in a tumult of rising glissandos against Eddie Hick's fierce drumming, and takes the initially vivacious dance of Tel Aviv into mysterious spaces more reminiscent of Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter's In a Silent Way. Buenos Aires expresses a pulsating heat in which motifs wander as if in a haze, Scarborough Fair arrives late in the song devoted to the town, before the track unexpectedly turns into a Coltrane-quartet modal storm for the excellent Frank Harrison's McCoy Tyner-inspired piano. The playing is generally stronger than the writing – but since it's such high-class playing, that hardly matters.
By John Fordham