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Jane Enkin Reviews David Buchbinder’s Odessa/Havana Roots Concert At Rady JCC's Tarbut Festival of Jewish Culture

by Jane Enkin posted Dec 4, 2016

An enthusiastic full house audience enjoyed the first concert of Rady JCC's Tarbut Festival of  Jewish Culture 2016, David Buchbinder’s Odessa/Havana Roots.  Buchbinder brought together his years in jazz, Latin and klezmer music.  He has dazzling skills as a trumpet player and a wonderful ear as composer, arranger and band leader. He is also an affable host, welcoming the listeners to the history and depth of his music.

He opened the evening with one of his own compositions, a sparkling piece in Cuban rhythms.  The band’s repertoire, he explained, often consists mostly of his compositions and those of his pianist collaborator, Hilario Duran. Like Buchbinder, Duran plays driving, dramatic and beautiful solos.

But this concert also included a “roots” component. 

There were Cuban standards, both sweet ballads and hot AfroCuban numbers, ably supported by Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo on percussion.  It was easy to imagine swaying couples dancing to these smooth sounds.

Buchbinder and Duran’s reimagining of a 1905 klezmer treasure was complex, as many of the band’s pieces are. Many sections were gentle and delicate; others were intense with fireworks of sound; and now and then the piano played a familiar, regular klezmer rhythm that had the audience clapping along. 

Maryem Hassan Tollar, a Toronto singer of Arabic music, performed many Ladino songs in the evening, several of them very simple traditional folk ballads. Surrounded and supported by jazz and Latin music, the songs were like lovely, simple pearls enhanced by ornate settings.  Tollar’s voice is dark and smoky, her Middle-Eastern ornamentation rich, her performance filled with the pain and longing of the songs.

Guest bass player, Winnipeg’s Steve Kirby, introduced some of the Ladino songs with elegant, sorrowful rubato solos.  For one of the songs, the band switched for a time from a Latin sound to a straight jazz feel.  Kirby really shone in this section with his fluid lines, and he played fantastic solos throughout the evening.  

Rounding out the program were some original compositions that had Tollar singing wordless melodies along with the instruments, not as a vocalist accompanied by a band but integrated into the music.  These pieces, like many of Buchbinder and Duran’s compositions, have the intricacy of chamber music, with several contrasting movements and dramatic changes of tempo, rhythm and feeling.  Altogether a beautiful evening of music.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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