Face The Music Brian Bender & Little Shop of Horas : Eyn Velt (US,2008)***
I was contacted asking to check out Brian Bender’s albums; I found it strange how one man could lead and play in so many styles, and I wondered how he would blend them. I could only find out by listening.
Brian’s latest album is called “Eyn Velt”, which combines Jewish melodies (from Klezmer and Chassidic origins or interpretations, and flavoured by his experience in Hebrew music) mixed with Latin, Caribbean, African and Middle Eastern rhythms. For each section and tune he used musicians who specialize in a certain genre to keep things authentic. Brian himself is used to playing in various traditions of genres of African reggae, Jewish folk, Celtic, World Beat, Afrobeat, Juju, Brazilian, Salsa/meringue, Latin Jazz, blues, Dixieland jazz, jazz and ska.
He himself plays trombone, keyboards, trumpet, melodica and percussion. The blend between them gets richer by the way of playing, and is not just a way of playing or certain tunes to different rhythmic areas. Basically Brian is a player whose own style, here, is a blend of jazz flavoured more “tragic” sounds of the melodica, Klezmer and Hebrew melodies, while the new blending sounds optimistic and light and also, so easy. The “blend” is not in that it changed anything from the original sources of traditions, which was also the intention, no matter how unusual combinations of tunes and melodies in theory might be. The compositions hang well together and sound like one logical compositional concept, making in music a bit of a meeting place where each person keeps this whole identity intact. On the Turkish melody “Artik” were added some personal fantasies, making it fit perfectly within the other tracks. A perfect listen showing a playground of traditions blended with a personality.
Guests on the album were Frank London (Klezmatics, Hasidic New Wave), Alicia Svigals (Klezmatics, Mikveh), Charles Neville (Neville Brothers), Stuart Brotman (Brave Old World), Grant Smith (Klezmer Conservatory Band), Jose Gonzalez (Bando Criollo), Raquy Danziger (Raquy & The Cavemen) and Backa Niang (Gokh-Bi System).
Face The MusicBrian Bender & The World Beatniks : Urban Jungle (US,2007)**
Even when the same talent is present in this album, the ‘Urban Jungle’ is much lighter entertainment, played with pleasure by Brian on trombone mostly, but with a feeling he’s playing much more along, like a player, a bit more than being a composer. Jazz makes most links, but we also hear a Turkish and rather Balkan (actually klezmer/Arabic) making an alternation point, afrobeat, samba, reggae and funk have its share as well. Enjoyable music, but still, the new album shows a much stronger vision. Besides, my interests are creative blends, crossovers and fusions with a creative vision, and I'm more enthusiastic when that comes out best. This is more an album that presents an urban exoticism of enjoyment that can easily be adapted in a jazz flavoured context.
Guests on the album were Eric Krasno (Soulive), Adam Deitch (Avarage White Band, Lettuce), Charles Neville (Neville Brothers) and Jose Gonzalez (Bando Criollo).