By John Fordham
Gilad Atzmon Orient House Ensemble: The Whistle Blower CD review – muscular tones to naff pop
The expat Israeli musician Gilad Atzmon told Jazzwise magazine: “If my music wants to go in one direction, it will take me with it.”This eighth album by Atzmon’s powerful Orient House Ensemble goes in at least three directions: muscular Coltrane-like energy; melancholy tone-poetry drawing on the Turkish and Arabic inflections in the leader’s playing; cheerfully subversive clowning. The title also splits three ways, referring to Atzmon the virtuoso wind-player, Atzmon the guerrilla of political incorrectness (the heartfelt ballad For Moana was inspired by the late Italian porn-star and politician Moana Pozzi), and to the jokey wolf-whistling the band does on the closing title track – which sounds like a naff French pop song of the 1960s., and is a typically Atzmonian disruption of the affecting and romantic melancholia that has preceded it. For all its distractions, though, this is a world-jazz album displaying Atzmon’s most explicit commitment to the “jazz” component of that label – as evocatively mellow as the work of an early New Orleans clarinettist in The Romantic Church, awesome on double-time alto-sax bebop, impassioned and swooping on soprano in the Coltranesque Let Us Pray or To Be Free. Gilad Atzmon is many things, some of them lovable and some less so, but he’s a gifted jazz musician to his core.
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