Fifteen years separate the young saxophonist Assif Tsahar from the veteran drummer Hamid Drake, yet their encounter suffers from no generation gap, their common free jazz background making the perfect bridge. Soul Bodies, Vol. 1 is a live recording made at the Vision Festival in New York City, May 2001. A comfortable room, a sympathetic crowd, and two improvisers ready for a good evening: all the elements were in place. The set unfolds in three times. The first and third pieces are grounded in free jazz tradition. Tsahar weaves soulful post-Coltranian lines while Drake keeps a groove, especially in "Soul Bodies" where he never misses a beat and still manages to play masterfully around the rhythm. The second piece, "Clay Dancers," is a different affair. Tsahar drops his beasty tenor saxophone to pick up the more insidious bass clarinet and Drake steps out of the trap to approach the microphone, singing Sufi themes while playing the frame drum. The North African spices make an excellent meal with the clarinetist's memories of an Israeli childhood. All of a sudden we are not in jazz territory anymore, but in a trance-inducing global village of sounds. Drake is in top shape throughout, equal to his playful virtuosic self. Very enjoyable.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture