Jazzwise: Gilad Atzmon And The Orient House Ensemble - The Tide Has Changed ★★★★

Gilad Atzmon And The Orient House Ensemble - The Tide Has Changed ★★★★

Friday, 22 October 2010 12:32

Harmonia Mundi 450015 | Gilad Atzmon (ss, as, clt, acc, v), Frank Harrison (p, kys, xyl, v), Yaron Stavi (b, v), Eddie Hick (d, v) with Tali Atzmon (v) and Derek ‘The Draw’ Hussey (MC). Rec. 24-26 February 2010

Happy birthday to the Orient House for a decade on the jazz block: and what better way to celebrate than ith thi l d with this splendid, ever changing album. We kick off with Hussey’s circus bark (he’s the Blockheads vocals man) calling us to the party in a mix of Kurt Weill, Sgt Pepper and, um, David Essex. But being the OHE, of course, we walk through the door to the sound of scuffed piano strings and Atzmon’s lamenting ululations. The world’s realities march alongside the good times with this band. However, beauty always beats the bad guys, and a stirring vamp held down by a seismic bass figure soon has the spirits rising on the anthemic title track.

Compared to the likes of Exile, this OHE production uses fewer colours, fewer guests: this is very much a quartet album, deeply focused and with all frills edited out. This is a band that after a decade is as tight as the proverbial drum; and talking of which, the promising Hick slots in admirably, less spectacular than Sirkis, but that complements this disciplined, even inward-looking project.

Other stand-outs include a restrained take on Ravel’s ‘Bolero’. Much of the ‘exoticness’ is leeched out, allowing direct access to that seductive theme which gyres and gambols around us. If Atzmon flourished in Parker mode with In Loving Memory Of America, then Coltrane is the touchstone here, notably on the long meditation ‘London To Gaza’ which features a lyric solo from Harrison whom, need we say, grows leaner, more sparing yet more killing with every recording. We end in party mood, of course, with a Balkan knees up, though the Weill coda reminds us of tears behind the laughter. But for now, let’s raise a glass: to the next decade.

Andy Robson