Jon Regen

Tel Aviv

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A former student and protégé of master pianist Kenny Barron, Jon Regen has aptly named his second album Tel Aviv. It covers a wide spectrum of jazz styles, running from a deep, intensely performed three-part "The Tel Aviv Suite" through jazz classics including Herbie Hancock's "Just Enough" to the standard "Darn That Dream," with various stylistic pit stops along the way. "The Tel Aviv Suite" is the cornerstone on this album. Divided into three sections and running for a total of 22 minutes, it exhibits a diversity of musical messages. "Pt. 1" features a constant wild, exuberant exchange between Regen and the flute of Itai Kriss. "Pt. 2" continues with its powerful statement. But here Regen spends most of the time with repetitive chords in support of the flute, Gilad Abro's bass, and -- in a role reversal -- the drums of Shay Zelman. "Pt. 3" is calm, silvery, the safe haven that the protagonists in "Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2" were seeking. Anything but pretentious, this piece of music reveals that Regen has considerable composing skills. Given the number of times that the Tel Aviv audience's applause interrupted the playing, they obviously shared this view. "Darn That Dream" is given a novel reading, as Regen opens it with a quote from "Manteca" before making it a syllabus of improvisation. In contrast to his hard-driving piano, Regen's vocalizing, while upbeat, shows a gentler side. But, even here, when the singing stops, the nonstop fast-paced rhythmic parade marches on, again with flight of fancy flute from Kriss taking the lead. The rarely heard Hancock opus "Just Enough" provides a rare oasis of calm as Regen uses this cut to tone down the gusto of the playing. Regen is an exciting, talented performer and composer, and this album is recommended.

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