Posted on write-up for “Next Page”….

Next Page is Yotam Silberstein’s debut release on Posi-Tone Records. Quite the smooth player, Silberstein’s guitar work has a creative flare relatable to Les Paul and a misty blues intonation that recalls of Greg Skaff. Born and raised in Tel-Aviv, Israel, Silberstein plays American style jazz as if he acquired it through osmosis. After serving his duty in the Israeli Army where he was a musical director, arranger and lead guitarist for 3 years, and after the release of his laudable debut record The Arrival on the Fresh Sound New Talent label, he received a scholarship to study at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City where he had first-hand access to American jazz music.

He became a regular on the New York jazz scene performing with the likes of James Moody, Roy Hargrove, and Greg Hutchinson to name a few, and the music on Next Page is fraught with these gentlemen’s influences. This is not to say that Silberstein has forsaken his heritage, but his creative talents lean towards a modern approach to making music and Next Page is all about taking jazz music further along its evolution.

In the recording, Silberstein is joined by Sam Yahel on organ, Willie Jones III on drums, and Chris Cheek on tenor saxophone. They are like-minded musicians playing what they like, and constructing harmonic forms that manifest a pleasing aura like the gently rolling frothy topped waves of “Borsht” which have a likeness to the classy swagger of Steve Herberman. The slow rise implemented by the guitar chords is like watching bread rise while baking in the oven. There is some kind of mystical occurrence going on here that keeps the listener’s ears fixated on every incremental movement happening in these tracks. The sensual stride of Cheek’s saxophone solos in “Foolin’ Myself” can bewitch even a savage soul, and the perky shimmies spackling “Ani Eshtagea” will have that savage dancing a tango on the ballroom floor. The Latin-flavored nuances embellish the track beautifully and keep the listener’s mind activated. The soft, foamy drools of the saxophone along “Cancan” whither with a bedtime feel, and the casual stroll of the guitar chords along “Blues For 007” heightens notes with a bluesy sensibility to take flight. The crimped saxophone lines and sprinting of the guitar chords through “If I Would Leave You” and “Cheryl” are inflated with buoyant skips, and the mellow mood of “Ligia” inspires one to take life a bit slower and enjoy the simple surroundings already there.

Yotam Silberstein creates solid American-style jazz in his compositions. Next Page is loaded with happy moods and classically beautiful tones that inspire one to see life is filled with joyful moments which activate the senses to feel positive


Borsht, Foolin’ Myself, Ani Eshtagea, Cancan, Blues For 007, Weekend In Mizpe, If I Would Leave You, Jalastra, Ligia, Cheryl

Artist’s Website:

Reviewed by: Susan Frances



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AAJ review for Yotam Silberstein “Next Page”…

The organ trio approach is one of the more drenched-in-the-tradition formats in jazz. From Wes Montgomery‘s Riverside recordings throughGrant Green‘s Blue Note sets up to Dr. Lonnie Smith‘s innovations, there’s always a feeling of timeless soulfulness to the grouping of guitar, Hammond B3 organ and drums.

Tel Aviv-born guitarist Yotom Silberstein, on Next Page, brings a reverence for that tradition, along with a hint of a Near Eastern tint, a nod to Bossa Nova, and a turn of the page in the American Songbook to go with his vibrant original tunes. Joining Siberstein is drummer Willie Jones III, organist Sam Yahel—who does his part to push the organ trio concept here, as well as on his own recordings and those with saxophonist Joshua Redman—with saxophonist Chris Cheek sitting in a several cuts.

The set opens with Silberstein’s “Borsht,” most certainly the only organ trio tune named after a Russian dish. It’s a relaxed, smooth-flowing and upbeat sound, with Silberstein displaying his clean, succinct notes in front of Yahel’s sweet whispering and Jones’ subtle bustlings, with ensemble gathering energy along the way. Cheek’s beautiful, hollow-toned saxophone joins the proceedings on a tune from Billie Holiday‘s songbook , “Fooling Myself.” The atmosphere here is lighthearted, buoyant and laidback.

Silberstein lifts a tune from his childhood with “Ani Eshtagea,” a Venezuelan folk song adopted by many Israeli singers. It’s a spicy, dance-inciting sound, with some of the guitarist’s hottest playing on the disc. “Cancao” is Silberstein’s tribute to Maurice Ravel, a step away from the organ combo soul into meditative beauty, with inspired blowing by Cheek.

“Blues for 007” opens with a stealthy guitar intro leading into the trio’s tribute to fictional international subterfuge. “Weekend in Mitzpe,” another Silberstein tune, celebrates Mizpe Ramon in the Judea Desert in Israel, and the American Songbook classic, “If Ever I Should Leave You,” gets a zingy, full-speed- ahead trio treatment. “Jalastra” is Silberstein’s dedication to the New York jazz scene, with Cheek’s saxophone singing with a gorgeous resonance.

Next Page, a nicely paced set, is a standout guitar/organ combo effort.


Posted on review of “Next page”…

New York-based guitarist Yotam Silberstein may not be a house hold name in jazz at the moment, but he certainly has become one of the busiest jazz guitarist in New York’s vibrant jazz scene and his first release for the Posi-Tone label, “Next Page” brings a tasty fresh new sound guaranteed to capture your attention. At the age of 21, Israeli-born Silberstein was named the “Israeli jazz player of the year” in 2003, the same year he also released his debut recording “The Arrival” (Fresh Sound Records) marking his arrival as a full fledged member of the jazz world. This album builds upon that first offering turning a ‘new’ page in this young man’s career with a vigorous outing on “Next Page.”

Performing with a quartet comprised of Sam Yahel on the organ, Willie Jones III on the drums and the versatile Chris Cheek on tenor saxophone, the guitarist presents a blend of originals and standards in a ten piece repertoire containing some familiar yet not oft played songs like the Lerner/Loewe “Camelot” classic, “If Ever I Would Leave You,” which are given bri sk new reads resulting in some pretty spectacular musical transformations. With soft organ play from Yahel and the drummer on the brushes, Silberstein delivers gentle chords on the lush Antonio Carlos Jobim score “Ligia” while in stark contrast, Cheek blisters the music with a sax solo leading the band on a boppish romp through Charlie Parker’s “Cheryl” which Silberstein rides with excellent riffs.

Cheek is just magnificent throughout the album starting on “Foolin’ Myself” where the organist provides the meat of music, but the saxophonist weighs in on such other tunes as “Cancao,” “Weekend in Mizpe” and “Jalastra.” But this is not Cheek’s album, it’s Silberstein show and the guitarist makes sure of that with plenty of pronounced play.

Without a doubt, Yotam Silberstein’s “Next Page” is quite an exceptional recording containing all the elements that must be present for a successful recording, excellent charts, great musicianship and an infectious new sound.

Year: 2009
Label: Posi-Tone Records
Artist Web:

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Ken Fowser / Behn Gillece – Full View

Posi-tone, the small independent jazz label from Venice Beach, California, is releasing cutting edge straight ahead jazz and making quite a name for itself.

Ken Fowser / Behn Gillece’s ‘Full View’ is a great example that kicks off with a blistering take on Sam Jones’ “Bittersweet”, moves neatly through a reflective version of Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes” – without having to make reference to John Coltrane – and includes an inventive version of the Styne/Green/Comden standard “Just In Time”. On the way there is a wealth of strong self-composed material in what is a fine album of high achievement.

The band – Ken Fowser (tenor sax), Behn Gillece (vibes), David Hazeltine (piano), Adam Cote (bass), Paul Francis (drums) – is blessed with fine understanding, particularly with the inspiring contribution of David Hazeltine.

Ken Fowser, from Philadelphia, studied music at University of the Arts, jamming at Chris’ Jazz Café and Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus before moving to New York, for a Masters at William Paterson University and private lessons with Eric Alexander and Ralph Lalama.

Behn Gillece, also from Philadelphia, who claims Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson as influences, completed his Masters at SUNY Purchase College in 2008 and is author of a number of the self compositions.

You can hear good quality extracts from a number of the tracks on the Ken Fowser and Behn Gillece websites.

Great stuff!

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Yotam Silberstein, Next Page (CD review)

Yotam Silberstein, Next Page (Posi-Tone Records)

In 2003, at age 21, Israeli-born guitarist Yotam Silberstein released his debut album on the Fresh Sound label, and aptly titled it The Arrival; the recording’s success opened the door to steady touring throughout Europe and the Middle East.

After six years, studies at the New School, and scores of New York gigs with high-profile leaders, Silberstein is back with an even more impressive second CD, dominated by his own inspired compositions. The guitarist is joined by players who come off as perfectly matched, in tone and musical temperament – B3 organist Sam Yahel, drummer Willie Jones and, on some tracks, tenor saxophonist Chris Cheek.

The group leads off with the bluesy sound, churning swing and eminently catchy hooks of Silberstein’s “Borsht,” but he writes in other veins, too.

“Cancao” is an exceedingly pretty ballad, voiced by Cheek; “Blues for 007″ hints at the Bond movie theme before moving into a sprightly melody and the guitarist’s playful, exuberant improvisation, echoed by Yahel’s extended solo. The laidback “Weekend in Mizpe,” also led by Cheek, is soaked in melancholy.

Middle Eastern melodies and rhythms come into play on Cospi’s “Ani Eshtagea.” And outside composers provide conduits to other directions, too, with the uptempo bebop of Charlie Parker’s “Cheryl,” benefiting from a chorus-trading exchange between Yahel and Cheek, and a mellow, burnished take on Jobim’s “Ligia.”

Given Silberstein’s myriad strengths as a player and his compositional muscle, it would be surprising if he doesn’t find a place in the front ranks of today’s young jazz guitarists.


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Jazztimes review of “Consequences”

April 2009
John Escreet

By Bill Milkowski

Straddling through-composed and free-form music, the U.K.-born pianist-composer John Escreet delves into original, forward-thinking territory with fellow New Yorkers and like-minded musical renegades like trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, alto saxophonist David Binney, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. From the 30-minute “Suite of Consequence” to the episodic “Wayne’s World,” with allusions to Wayne Shorter’s harmonic genius, to the lyrical “Dilemma” and a solo piano cover of Andrew Hill’s “No Doubt,” this is challenging, rewarding stuff for adventurous listeners.

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Another review for Steve Davis “Outlook”….

Outlook cover

Steve Davis has been making great ensemble jazz in live performance, with the sextet ‘One For All’ and with a sequence of albums as leader with the seemingly obscurantist Criss Cross label. So, it is good to see that Posi-tone have released “Outlook” and that this album will hopefully reach a wider audience.

The inspiration that Jackie McLean brought to The Jazz Institute that he founded at Hartt School at Hartford University has been bearing fruit – alumni include Jimmy Greene, Tony Leone, Wayne Escoffery, Mike DiRubbo, Dezron Douglas as well as Steve Davis and Eric McPherson, who both also serve as Faculty members there.

The band on “Outlook” – Steve Davis (trombone), Mike DiRubbo (alto sax), David Bryant (piano), Dezron Douglas (bass) and Eric McPherson (drums) – draws on much of this talent as it presents five original compositions and three covers.

It is not surprising to hear that Mike DiRubbo studied alto sax with Jackie McLean. His playing is exemplary throughout with more than a hint of the acid sharpness of his great mentor, particulary on his own composition “Line Of Flight” and on the closing track, a fine reading of Cecil Payne’s “Bosco”.

The three Steve Davis Compositions – the opening title track, “Smooth” and “Mission” – make full use of the potential of the quintet to deliver interesting harmonization and involving soloing. The take on Duke Ellington’s “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)”, featuring the leader’s trombone playing extensively, is a master class in silky, after hours jazz.

Douglas Dezron contributes the oddly titled “Lord Davis” which again features fine alto sax work from Mike DiRubbo.

The only track that could have been dispensed with is the version of Bill Withers’ pop platitude “Lovely Day”. Perhaps there are some tunes that no amount of chord substitution could ever revive.

That should not distract from what is a fine album with strong performances all round.

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All About Jazz’s review of Jeremy Manasia’s “After Dark” CD…

www.allaboutjazz.comAfter Dark
Jeremy Manasia | Posi-Tone Records (2009)

By Terrell Kent Holmes

Pianist, composer and arranger Jeremy Manasia is the driving force behind After Dark, an excellent group of originals and standards rendered by Manasia, drummer Charles Ruggiero and bassist Barak Mori.

Manasia wrote most of the songs with classic jazz as his guiding principle. Up-tempo tunes like “Ruggburn” or the cool mid-tempo blues “Arch Eyes” are straight from the hard bop lexicon. In the spirited “Jake’s Dilemma” one can hear whispers of Bud Powell’s “Oblivion.” There are subtle but substantial variations on the theme, such as “Search for Moonlight,” another bop descendant that has influences ranging from Gershwin to Asian folk music. Guest star Ian Hendrickson-Smith’s alto sax invokes Getz more than Coltrane on the samba arrangement of “Soul Eyes,” but it neither mutes his own voice nor devolves into hollow mimicry. Jane Monheit’s smoky vocals light up “When You Smile,” a song whose structure and lyrics recall the golden era of singing and songwriting. And any yawns that might be induced upon seeing the title “Just One of Those Things” will be stifled quickly by Manasia’s unique arrangement and the dynamism with which the trio attacks it.

Manasia continued his homage to the hard bop tradition during a lively CD release set at New York City’s Smalls in late January 2009. The lineup was expanded to a quintet, featuring trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and Wayne Escoffery on tenor. The band played no tunes from After Dark; instead it showcased the music of trumpeter Kenny Dorham. The set opened with “Whistlestop,” where ideas poured from Magnarelli’s horn with such fury that it seemed that he wouldn’t get them all out. Escoffery spun his wheels a bit initially but once he found a rhythm his solos were smartly conceived and resonant. Manasia comped deliberately throughout the set but played his own solos with the same fluidity he displayed on disc. The versions of “Sunrise in Mexico,” “Escapade” and “Our Thing” were so tight and blistering that it made one want to run out and buy every single Kenny Dorham recording possible.

Track listing: Ruggburn; Arch Eyes; Ria; Search for Moonlight; Stepping Stones; Soul Eyes; When You Smile; Jake

Personnel: Jeremy Manasia: piano; Barak Mori: bass; Charles Ruggiero: drums; Ian Hendrickson-Smith: alto sax; Jane Monheit: vocals.

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AAJ review of Steve Davis “Outlook”…

Trombonist Steve Davis has spent much of his two-decade jazz career in larger ensembles—big bands but most notably sextets, from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Chick Corea’s Origin and the co-op band One for All to Benny Golson’s New Jazztet. But when Davis leads his own bands or puts out his own records he thinks smaller. Outlook is six quintet, two quartet tracks, with Davis joined by pianist David Bryant, bassist Dezron Douglas, drummer Eric McPherson and alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo (in the quintets).

There’s an old jazz term in disuse today that perfectly describes Davis’ trombone playing: cool. His very tone—rich and velvety, as if the brass of his horn was burnished by suede—combined with his penchant for the middle and lower registers is the essence of cool. And his eloquent, understated lyricism is hard to find in many players of his generation (born in the late ’60s). The two quartet ballad tracks here, Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day” and Ellington’s “I’ve Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good,” are as good as cool gets.

But cool doesn’t necessarily mean lacking verve or swing. There’s plenty of that here too from Davis’ own buoyant originals—the bright title tune, Blakey-ish “Mission” and especially “Smooth,” an akimbo take-off on smooth jazz with a spicy kick. McPherson is the indispensable fulcrum that leverages the excitement of the quintet numbers, from his “Take Five” take on the waltz “Line of Flight” to his rim shot Latin rhythms on “Bosco.” But both Bryant and DiRubbo bring a tart angularity to the proceedings that contrast nicely with the leader’s emphatic chill.


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Nate Chinen’s NYT review of John Escreet at the Jazz Gallery…

Building Bridges With a Post-Bop Ideal

John Escreet began his first set at the Jazz Gallery on Thursday night with a solo piano rumination, soft but stern. He was playing “No Doubt,” by the pianist-composer Andrew Hill, as an invocation, and maybe a stylistic pledge of allegiance. But then when he struck up a tempo to cue his band, the theme it hammered out was a choppy thing called “Unison,” by the British saxophonist Jason Yarde.

That juxtaposition says something about Mr. Escreet, who moved to New York from England a few years ago. Now in his mid-20s, he approaches music with a broad perspective and a knack for drawing connections. Mr. Hill, who died in 2007, can be a touchstone for him, but so can Mr. Yarde, who’s closer to his age and scarcely known on this side of the Atlantic. It all feeds a purpose of dynamic abstraction, the progressive post-bop ideal.

Mr. Escreet recently released his first album, “Consequences” (Posi-Tone), featuring a New York group he calls the John Escreet Project: the alto saxophonist David Binney, the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, the bassist Matt Brewer and the drummer Tyshawn Sorey. Here, with Zack Lober substituting for Mr. Brewer, the band was both elastic and fervent.

In the spirit of Mr. Hill — and Jason Moran, with whom he has studied — Mr. Escreet wants his performances to feel sudden and changeable. His solo on “Unison” was one long crescendo, all stuttering rumble and cresting tide. Mr. Binney, up next, ordered a breakneck swing tempo, his notes forming gusty arcs. When it was Mr. Akinmusire’s turn, the band fell away, leaving him space for a pointillist concerto.

The episodic strategy for the band flattered no one more than Mr. Akinmusire, an expert colorist with imposing technique. He delivered the most striking solo of the set on an Escreet original called “Dilemma,” flirting with free improvisation but keeping a toehold in melody. Even at his most texture-minded, with whinnies and slurs, he made sense.

The same was true later, when he made his trumpet evoke a sputtering turbine on “Wayne’s World,” another piece by Mr. Escreet (named for Wayne Shorter, not the movie). This time he wasn’t alone: Mr. Binney, hissing through his reed, and Mr. Sorey, thumping his bass drum with a mallet, helped stir the air. They paused only for a dash of pianism by Mr. Escreet, who treated it as a transition, another bridge to build.