Yotam Silberstein ‘The Village’ (Jazz & People) 3/5

Guitarist/composer Yotam Silberstein’s fifth release as leader is a quartet outing with Aaron Goldberg on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Gregory Hutchinson on drums. The New York based Tel-Aviv born guitarist has brought together many influences for this recording, including music from the Middle East, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Uruguay; all forged together into a likeable jazz setting that makes for a pleasant listen.
The musicianship throughout this session is impeccable, perhaps not surprising given the quality of the rhythm section at hand. “I was so happy in the studio looking around and seeing my band members who are each virtuosos on their instruments, and dear friends; they understand and support my musical vision and play my music as if they wrote it!” says Silberstein. And indeed, there is a wonderful cohesion to the music being performed with excellent interplay and soloing from all four musicians. Silberstein himself has a wonderful feel for the traditional language of jazz guitar, bringing to mind thoughts of Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery and Grant Green. His South American influences shine brightly throughout this album, resulting in a light and harmonious nature to the performance.

Whilst the quality of the musicianship throughout “The Village” is never in question, the compositions are not always the strongest point. It’s all a little too familiar and lacking in surprises, but it does hinge together well, even if this listener found himself wandering off at times. That said, there is plenty to enjoy, with tunes like the delicious “Fuzz” and the gorgeous “Stav” adding a touch of undoubted class and skill to the proceedings. These two tracks in particular prove that Silberstein has a splendid talent, one which allows his band the freedom to express themselves on a more emotional level, not just a technical one. “October” reflects well the fact that it was written on a beautiful Autumn day, and the rhythmic, infectious qualities of “Parabens” and “Milonga Girls” provide excitement and joy to the ear.

Perhaps not an album that will stay near the front of the CD player for years to come, “The Village” is nonetheless a fine recording, with some lovely highlights, especially for any jazz guitar officianados out there.

Mike Gates