Sarel River

2 in One

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For his second album, guitarist Sarel River takes his regular quartet through a play list of original material, with the exception of Joe Henderson's "Serenity." River is a native of Hafia, Israel, and has gigged in Budapest; he eventually relocated in New York where he has become active on the local jazz circuit. The combination of guitar and flute -- which is not often heard -- creates a different but pleasant aural sensation, having an echo chamber effect on some cuts. River and flutist Matan Klein work together in carrying the melody lines of River's compositions. Helping to keep the music from falling into a rut is River's ability to balance smooth, clean single-string effects with heavier chords, especially when playing in duet with Klein. Not only does this give greater variety to the quality of the guitar, but it also changes the sound of the flute, one of the more limited instruments in the jazz arsenal. This recalls work by groups headed by Joe Farrell and Hubert Laws. The tactic also gives the impression that there are two guitars on the album, one playing strictly rhythm. One hears the effect of this approach on such tunes as "Two in One" and "Back Home." The musicians achieve a delicate balance in the way they mesh. As River and Klein take up the front-line duties, Mat Pennman's bass lays a solid foundation, along with an occasional solo, while fine drummer Steve Hass stays busy creating a variety of rhythmic undertones without overreaching. River's compositions are also not overreaching, and are unlikely to become part of the basic jazz literature. But they swing and bounce along, fortified by the outstanding musicianship of the performers, with the flute playing especially distinguished. Recommended.

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