Friday, August 28, 2015

Eugene Marlow with the Heritage Ensemble, Hallelujah! Jazzy & Classical Piano Variations from the Hebraic Songbook

As I travel down the road of musical life I have begun to see clearly that there are two major poles in New York Jewish jazz. There is on the one hand of course John Zorn, and then there is Eugene Marlow. Both go about things in different ways, but neither are to be missed.

Eugene Marlow and his Heritage Ensemble show us their special approach once again on their 5th album, Hallelujah! Jazzy & Classical Piano Variations from the Hebraic Songbook (MEII). For this volume Eugene arranges a wonderful choice of well-known Hebraic songs for solo piano, jazz trio and quartet, giving it all a modern twist and allowing us to appreciate the vivid artistry of Marlow the pianist.

The solo piano tracks have a sort of classical-meets-jazz wholeness. The trio numbers swing very nicely, whether in a Latin mode or otherwise. Though the personnel is not listed on the album I hear most definitely Bobby Sanabria on drums in there, and as usual he is a knockout.

It all has a special emphasis on Eugene Marlow the rather brilliant piano stylist. His transposing of the Jewish melodic modality into a modern zone works beautifully here as we have come to expect.

The more intimate emphasis on Hallelujah! is welcome and moving. These are some of the most beautiful songs in the folkways of Hebraica and the arrangements only serve to heighten that feeling.

A program of great worth is what you get on this one, highlighting the interpretive brilliance and pianistic excellence of Eugene Marlow. Kudos!

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