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Sometimes the only preparation needed to record a stirring album is a longtime friendship. Bassist Ali Jackson, pianist Aaron Goldberg and drummer Omer Avital have known each other since their years in college, have played more gigs then they count and consider each best of friends. On Their new CD YES!, the three came together to record a spirited program of original compositions from each member of the group along with some tremendous interpretations of material from artists like Abdullah Ibrahim, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk.
about the album
This session was a reunion, a celebration, a late-night altercation. It was long overdue. We dared not prepare because we knew we’d been preparing for 15 years. Friends watch each other grow up. We’d heard each other grow up… In New School practice rooms, in Smalls, in symphonic halls. So one snowy night we arrived and just began to play. It got warm inside. A majority of the tunes were done in one take, as we let ourselves be what we are, which has something to do with what we were when we met. It also has much to do with the people we met along the way.
“Yes! is performed with such confidence and finger-snapping sense of relaxation/jubilation that its whole is greater than its parts. One might expect this trio to bust out of the gate at warp speed, perhaps plying Latin rhythms, folk melodies, or progressive improvisations (as Goldberg did on the recent Bienstan with Guillermo Klein) in a burst of Manhattan-centric energy. Jackson/Goldberg/Avital instead take a traditional approach to Monk, Ellington, and Abdullah Ibrahim, then jump on Avital’s romping title track with a shared sense of joy. Highlights are many: the lovely warmth of Avital’s solo over Jackson’s brushwork in his sweet ‘El Soul’; the Basie-esque sizzle of Mercer Ellington’s ‘Way Way Back’; the feeling between the notes of Ibrahim’s inchworm-like ‘Maraba Blue’; the funky butt groove of Duke Ellington’s ‘The Shepherd.’
The Yes! trio . . . takes their sweet time, and puts some serious soul to CD.”
– Downbeat Magazine