Yaron Herman / Yaron Herman Trio

Muse

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Acoustic pianist Yaron Herman's introspective music has its moments of outspoken brilliance, energy bursts, and classical or Jewish heritage spilling into each other, although for the most part he keeps things relatively segregated in parsed segments. Each piece has its own identity, which makes it difficult for the category choosers to give him an overall sound print. Three selections do border on the chamber side of jazz with the complementary Quatuor Ébène string quartet, while the trio sides range from harder edged and jumpy lines to more beautiful, reverential elements. Drummer Gerald Cleaver is the perfect person to navigate all of these styles, while bassist Matt Brewer is always there, underneath the covers of this music, probing and prodding the note clusters or sage musings of the pianist, and contributes two compositions of his own. Not quite as thorny as the Bad Plus, but rivaling the stylistic carvings of Fahir Atakoglu, Aaron Parks, or even Keith Jarrett at times, Herman speaks firmly of his experience through music, perhaps in many instances parenthetically or paradoxically. The pianist is quite capable of frenetic activity, as heard during the imaginative "Vertigo" or heavily accented "Twins," where he approaches the intellectual pyrotechnics of Eldar Djangirov or Vijay Iyer. Then there's a lighter side via the waltz take of Dizzy Gillespie's famous "Con Alma," the slower, dark, and deliberate ballad of Brewer's "Joya," or the solo "Lu Yehi" which sounds like a Jewish prayer. The rambling "Lamidbar" is propelled by Cleaver's rolling drumming, a two-note bass ostinato, and Herman's free piano discourse, while "Perpetua" is quite similar to a Mahavishnu Orchestra signature stair step, circular line that never ends, ascends, nor descends in its mystery and intrigue. The string ensemble is used with utmost taste and elegance, especially on the title track, in a pretty but solemn emotion, while a version of Björk's "Isobel" contrasts tromping beats with delicate piano similar to the late Esbjörn Svensson's trio. You hear contemporary music to sing praises of, and sounds that spark curiosity as to the whys and wherefores of its being. Herman's liner notes try to explain that the music speaks for itself, then attempts to justify why. Perhaps it is that ethereal, elusive, inexplicable quality that transfers the aural plane into art without qualifiers. It's just a suggestion that this recording should be listened to completely in silence, sans outside distractions and chatter, for the music indeed has a language all its own, and stands up proudly.

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