Omer Avital & His Band of the East Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Wed., Jan. 9, 8:30 p.m. 2013

New York-based Israeli bassist and part-time oud player Omer Avital recorded the beautiful Suite of the East (Anzic) in 2006, after a short residency at jazz club Smalls, and for some reason it gathered dust for six years till its release this past April. The group on the record—pianist Omer Klein, saxophonist Joel Frahm, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, and drummer Daniel Freedman—had clearly internalized the music during that residency, and they bring a plangent eloquence and easy rapport to the seven pieces, which alternate between delicate, soulful ballads and soaring, high-energy anthems and whose thick ensemble arrangements ratchet up the intensity with every chorus. Avital draws heavily on music from the Middle East and North Africa, wedding melodic shapes from those regions with plush Western tonality and big, swinging grooves that sometimes borrow from the blues; the combination feels as carefully considered as it is electrifying. Each musician gets plenty of solo space, but the other members don’t just sit out during such passages—they vamp, comment, and prod, sometimes playing well-designed charts that cushion and complement the improvisations. For this show, the group’s Chicago debut, Avital is joined by Freedman, tenor saxophonist Gregory Tardy, guitarist Nadav Remez, and pianist Jason Lindner. —Peter Margasak

Price: $10 suggested donation

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