There’s a lovely warm, welcoming feel to Israeli pianist Ari Erev’s fourth album “Close To Home”. Essentially a jazz trio ‘plus guests’ recording, the pianist’s passion for world music and, in particular, Latin influences, shines through on many of the tracks with a melodic richness and fluidity.
The core trio; Erev on piano, Assaf Hakimi on bass, and Gasper Bertoncelj on drums, are joined on several of the tunes by Gilad Dobrecky on percussion, Yuval Cohen on saxophone, and Hadar Noiberg on flute. There’s a togetherness from all of the players that rewards the listener with a smooth, harmonious spirit that echoes the sentiment behind the album’s title, as the band explore the many spaces and places that a 21st Century musician calls home.
Perhaps best summed up by the dedication of the beautiful, elegant track “Afar”, made to his daughter Tal, Erev explains “Close to home tells my story of family members, close friends and familiar places, to whom I relate and feel deep emotions towards. Our loved ones, the street we live in, the local shop, the near-by playground, our hometown and homeland. This album is about these people and places.” During the last 18 months and the challenging times we have faced in the world, I think we have all reflected on the important things in life and can relate to the pianist’s heartfelt words.
Whilst several pieces, including “Afar”, feature some expressive playing from the flautist and saxophonist, adding colour and texture throughout the album, I’m also taken with the purely trio tracks. “Old Friends” is a particular favourite of mine, its gentle, homely atmosphere echoing the mood of “Afar” with its delicate nature. A captivating, joyous celebration could be fitting words to describe much of the music on this recording. The trio have a spring in their step on Keith Jarrett’s “So Tender”, and who wouldn’t feel intoxicated by the sunny, Brazilian vibe on two of Erev’s original pieces “Israeli Story” and “Playground”? Given the overall upbeat nature of this album, it’s not surprising that there’s a light and breezy feel to Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years”, and an open, melodically rewarding sensibility to tunes like “Saturday’s Coffee”, “Falling In Place”, and “Childhood Scenes”.
“Close To Home” strikes me as one of those albums I’d be happy to put on and enjoy whilst having a little drink in the afternoon sunshine. Nothing too taxing, just nicely performed music drifting in and out of my ears along with the gentle breeze and the softly swaying trees for company.
Ari Erev ‘Flow’ CD (Self-released) 3/5