By Ariadna Theokopoulos
Stick with Atzmon: He’ll Take You Places!
Atzmon’s newest release, Songs of the Metropolis, is a must in any jazz lover’s collection. “Multireedsman” but primarily a superb saxophone player, Atzmon has produced a bouquet of homages to some of the greatest cities of the world, their music and their culture.
Stick with Atzmon, he’ll take you places! Places like Paris, Tell Aviv, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Manhattan, Moscow, “Somewhere in Italy,” Berlin and yes, Scarborough too.
Atzmon’s “Paris” is sweet and flavorful as a madeleine, without being maudlin. It is the love story between a tender yet confident sax and a lovingly attentive and crystalline piano (Frank Harrison). It is a madeleine that makes the search for “lost time” a worthwhile endeavor. The sax finale has the long finish of the best, properly aged French wine.
“Tel Aviv”’s staccato with brief, subtle allusions to oriental tones pulls off the remarkable evocation of declarative purpose and oneiric longing, to which the percussion accompaniment (Eddie Hicks) adds a sabra robustness.
“Buenos Aires” is a haunting piece, like a somber milonga danced late at night somewhere in La Boca while the waiters are already putting he chairs up on the tables. The sad, tuneful refrain makes you want to add lyrics to it. “Porqué me haces eso? Porqué a mi?” would fit.
“Vienna” is dainty and refined, intricate and pretty like a lace ball gown twirled in an elegant waltz. Great piano and percussion weaving, through which the sax erupts with gentle precision.
“Manhattan” moves in a way that reminds you why the phrase “a New York minute” was invented. The saxophone brackets the rhythm changes and describes the mood” confident, ebullient and climbing steadily with no pause for doubts.
“Moscow” is ample and deep, quiet and massive, pensive and slow “as the Don flows” and a beautifully melodious tribute.
“Somewhere in Italy” starts with a whisper: the sax describes the wind through the tall and graceful cypresses and pine trees drawn on an impossibly blue sky, a landscape adorned by beautifully ruined aqueducts. The sax also asks questions and answers them tenderly while the piano echoes them.
“Berlin” is perhaps a roaring 20s beer garden or a nightclub in the early 30s or both, where you drank “Bruderschaft” and where, “all together, ladies and gentlemen,” you swayed and sang, happy to be there, still happy to be German.
If you love jazz you will love this release of a superlative quality. If you love the music of the world in its individual uniqueness and diversity, and not the pasteurized kitsch of “multiculturalism,” you will love this even more and you will resonate to Atzmon’s worldview as a philosopher of culture, which he summarizes in the interview his wife skillfully coaxed out of him in this beautiful short film.