Music » Critic's Choice

Yoron Israel Quintet




Jazz drummer Yoron Israel addresses the beat with balance and authority. His solos hew to tightly reined structures; he makes vibrant (but never garish) use of the trap set's hidden colors. And he's toured with the greats--Joe Lovano, Sonny Rollins, and Horace Silver, to name a few. But despite all that, and despite his Chicago roots--Israel grew up in Maywood and attended and taught at Roosevelt University--the most exciting thing about this booking is the quintet he brings to town. It's the same band that Israel used on his first and only recording as a leader, A Gift for You, on the French label Free Lance--a band in which the instrumentation deserves as much attention as the personalities behind the instruments. Quite often, drummer-led groups serve as little more than an excuse to put a long-suffering sideman's name on top. But Israel belongs to the select group of drummers--Art Blakey, Max Roach, Paul Motian, and Ronald Shannon Jackson among them--who approach bandleading with fresh and distinctive vision. In both his playing and his writing he avoids clutter, and he has succeeded in creating a band very much in his own image: embracing traditional values without aping past designs, it has a spare, concise quality even at its busiest. Instead of using a pianist Israel has split the harmony work between guitarist Ed Cherry and vibraphonist Bryan Carrott, which gives the sound a clean, crisp profile. Cherry, who worked in Dizzy Gillespie's last groups, plays with measured force, and his solos have the taut energy of a mustang champing at the bit. Carrott, the band's clear standout (who stars in another drummer-led band, Ralph Peterson's Fo'tet) hangs shimmering curtains of sound cut from the pattern created by Bobby Hutcherson. But they have the same directed clarity as Israel's own playing, and that, more than anything else, characterizes this sprightly, personable band. Sunday, 6 PM, Unity Temple, 875 Lake, Oak Park; 708-383-8873. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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