Itamar Borochov ‘Blue Nights’ CD/DIG (Laborie Jazz) 5/5

If there truly is an artist who never leaves the listeners indifferent, it is Itamar Borochov. The trumpeter is back with a much-awaited third album, ‘Blue Nights’, on the French label Laborie Jazz. And clearly, with this new album, he is on top of his game.
Teaming up with his loyal ensemble (Avri Borochov on double bass and Jay Sawyer on drums) with the exception of Rob Clearfield who replaced Michael King on the piano, Itamar Borochov cracked the code for success.
The album is chock full of emotions. This is no wonder really, as Borochov is an observer; an introverted soul whose music is full of integrity and modesty, and yet ever so present. He offers us nine original compositions except for ‘Kol Haolam Kulo’, each full of colour and enchantments.
Whereas on his previous album, Boomerang, the Middle Eastern influences of his upbringing were more pronounced; I feel he bares himself more on this latest album. A shift has definitely occurred; whilst still keeping all that he encompasses – his profound phrases and long smooth lines; his velvety warm tone, his mesmerizing style, which are all so inherent to him and make his tone and performance undoubtedly recognizable. But this goes beyond his playing; it is him as a person that comes through – a sign of both growth and bravery.

The album jumps to life with the suave opening track ‘Right Now’. Right from the first few notes, Itamar Borochov plays the seduction card. It comes easy to him and he caresses the listeners with his sensibility. This is a gentle, soothing piece where he leads the melody to meander gracefully before breaking the spell and bringing it to a gentle climax, making full use of his trumpet’s lush timbre.
It follows with the title track ‘Blue Nights’, which beautifully highlights the warmth that permeates the album. This is a meditative piece at first, enriched by the use of the oud and where the piano provides the platform for Borochov’s soaring trumpet as he sweeps us away into a hypnotic outburst.

‘Motherlands’, featuring the award-winning band Innov Gnawa gives us a lovely example of how jazz and African music is always a good combination to create a feet-tapping joy that lifts spirits. But most importantly, once again, Itamar Borochov shows us how he can embrace endless musical possibilities, as part of his artistic vision.
One particular piece that stood forth to my ears is ‘Maalem’. The gentle opening sounds as if Borochov is playing scales, but then his breathy sound, together with the piano’s shimmering playing, provide fire to the proceedings and develop it into a narrative before it returns to the opening melody. I can listen to it several times.
‘Garden Dog Sleeps’ also sits high at the top of the list, offering beautiful trumpet and piano solos and exciting bass and drums. It is obvious this quartet couldn’t be more in tune with each other.
Cranking up a notch, with ‘Broken Vessels’, Itamar Borochov reminds us that he’s also that powerful trumpet player who can easily take the mood to another energy level with those rapid phrases he so enjoys playing.

Even though it is clear Itamar Borochov is the creative force behind the album, it is very much a collective effort. All the other three members of the quartet provide the ideal support. The piano’s remarkable accompaniment blends perfectly with Borochov’s powerful trumpet solos as well as the rhythm section. Avri Borochov’s bass’s full tone and vamps, as well as the drums’ audible nods and delicate sweeps, add colour and texture precisely where and when needed. Neither of them is obstructive but definitely act on a subliminal level to capture together the consciousness of the album.

Itamar Borochov wins me over and over. His writing is sensuous; his playing flawless. His music puts you in a reflective state. He has a magical pull and vulnerability that is palpable on every track.

The album is simply divine, in the spiritual sense. It touches all our senses with its lyricism, leaving the listeners with a lasting impression.
If the pursuit of perfection is indeed Itamar Borochov’s aspiration, then he is doing a pretty damn good job of it.

Nathalie Freson