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Gilad Atzmon In Loving Memory Of America Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

In Loving Memory is Gilad's epitaph to his American dream.

Kathryn Shackleton 2009

It was Gilad Atzmon's fascination with American jazz that turned him into a musician, but his disillusionment with US politics kept him in London. In Loving Memory Of America charts the Israeli saxophonist's quirky musical journey starting with his enlightenment on hearing, ''Charlie Parker with Strings''.

One of the finest alto players around, Gilad pays his respects to Bird in a collaboration between his Orient House Ensemble and the Sigamos String Quartet. It's striking how similar Gilad's sweet, open-throated sound is to Parker's, but as you'd expect from the fiery philosopher-turned-Blockhead, this is no tribute album.

Violinist Ros Stephen's lush arrangements for Everything Happens To Me and April In Paris stay true to ''Charlie Parker with Strings''. What Is This Thing Called Love hijacks Parker's riffs, though, updating them into danceable funk, while muttering strings haunt the tango interpretation of If I Should Lose You.

Alongside Bird's tunes there are reworked tracks from other OHE albums and brand new pieces, all continuing the 'with strings' theme. Tutu Tango is part burlesque fairground and part bar-room tango while musiK sets Frank Harrison's thoughtful, exploratory piano against a delicious weight of strings.

Call Me Stupid, Ungrateful, Vicious And Insatiable also appears on singer/songwriter Sarah Gillespie's debut, produced by Atzmon. On this raw ballad plaintive violin meets powerful Middle Eastern clarinet, while the album's tiny title track splices background chatter and rumbling beats. With its distant scat and sax lines it's a vision of New York living on in Gilad's head.

Recorded on the cusp of the transition from Bush to Obama, In Loving Memory of America tempers schmaltz with grit. This is not the wacky world of Artie Fishel or the magnum opus of Refuge. In Loving Memory is Gilad's epitaph to his American dream.

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