JAZZ TIMESWords Beyond - Album by Alon Nechushtan | Spotify

Israeli-born pianist-composer Alon Nechushtan establishes a loose-tight chemistry with drummer Dan Weiss and bassist Francois Mouton on his second trio release. A New York resident since 2003, his potent partnership with Weiss and Mouton places a premium on group interplay at the same time it encourages individual solo expression. From the playful, Monkish opener, Muppet Shock, to the highly interactive Different Kind of Morning, the off-kilter Spinning the Clouds and the swinging Dr. Master Plan, this stellar threesome blends daring instincts and dazzling virtuosity into organic expression. Other highlights include the engaging jazz waltz Spring Soul Song, the epic Secret Short/Short Secret and the gorgeous ballad Heartbreakthrough, which shifts from Bill Evans-esque delicacy to rhapsodic Keith Jarrett terrain.Bill Milkowski.

Israeli pianist Alon Nechushtan has recorded on John Zorn’s Tzadik label with a klezmer project featuring his originals, nine more of which appear here. The company Nechushtan keeps with Dan Weiss and Francois Moutin, two highly sought-after sidemen, gives advance notice of his standing. “Muppet Shock” searches playfully for a television theme hook with driving energy and acute punctuations. Weiss injects teeter-tot rhythms, and the three dice the beat with tenterhooks. Nechushtan scatters gemstones behind Moutin on “A Different Kind Of Morning,” the ride is thrilling, everyone is in step and bristling with virtuosity and enthusiasm, the recording hot and loud, Bad Plus-style. The leader’s left hand gets funky on “Spinning The Clouds” before a benign middle section, then he stomps out the riff from Sade’s “Smooth Operator” before some nice a cappella counterpoint. “Dr Master Plan” contains a Thelonious Monk-like percussive quality (as does “The Traveler”), a hint of “Straight No Chaser” in the chromatic line, before it spills into cantering swing and snatches of the riff from “Take The ‘A’ Train.” Like another expansive pianist, Michiel Braam, Nechushtan revels in boundless eclecticism. “Secret Short/Short Secret” is layered and forceful; “Entranced” is ecstatic rather than bewitched; “Heart-break-through” is resolved and confident, and doesn’t lack flashes of poignancy despite not playing for sympathy. Though, to my knowledge, this trio are not well journeyed together, they share tremendous simpatico. Nechushtan is a talent to watch, with a surfeit of ideas, an unbridled spirit and bold, two fisted sense of architecture. —Michael Jackson

Pianist Alon Nechushtan keeps his notes on their toes as he creates tightly-rung arabesques and vivacious pirouettes with his keys. He has an instinct for organizing purely improvised energy that requires the audiences’ undivided attention. His new CD, Words Beyond from Buckyball Records features drummer Dan Weiss and bassist Francois Moutin. As a threesome, their triple layers produce flapping motions that form mind-boggling mazes as the instruments bow and flex at different speeds changing the course of the movements in mid-stream and intersecting lines intermittently. Maintaining a springy constitution throughout “Muppet Shock”, the extemporaneous intervals are indicative of free thinking musicians. The spontaneous combustion of the cymbal strikes buttressing “Secret Short/Short Secret” bridge the transitions. The cascading droplets shaped by the piano keys through “A Different Kind of Morning” have a crystalline twinkle as the notes traipse softly, and shift to a frolicking canter along “Spinning The Clouds”. The brisk tremors of the keys across “Dr. Masterplan” form potmarks along the rippling drumbeats, and cool down to a gentle stroll in “Spring Soul Song” and “The Traveler”. Words Beyond is loosely based on Mendelssohn’s seminal “Songs Without Words” according to Alon Nechushtan’s, who claims that the music for the album came to him after playing Mendelssohn’s solo pieces on the piano. Nechushtan’s range is modulated to stay within the middle register of the piano, and what he achieves in those octaves exhibits his unbridled imagination. Susan Frances,

Playing jazz can be like driving a car. Sometimes you can sit back, rely on cruise control, and simply revel in a straightforward journey, but more precise maneuvering is often required. Lightning quick reflexes, an ability to comfortably navigate hairpin turns, and a strong directional sense are equally important, and pianist Alon Nechushtan exhibits all of these traits from behind the driver’s seat on Words Beyond. The left-leaning klezmer jazz that Nechushtan delivered with his Talat band mates on Growl (Tzadik, 2006) is nowhere to be found here. Instead, Nechushtan relies on an aesthetic that leans heavily on shifts in the rhythmic sands of time and complex, two (or three) way conversations. Hearing how drummer extraordinaire Dan Weiss solos over a playful, broken bass presence on “Muppet Shock” or soaking in the piano-bass dialog on “Different Kind Of Morning,” demonstrates that this is high-level communication of the highest order. Nechushtan couldn’t have asked for more empathetic and appropriate colleagues, in terms of creating a fluid and flexible trio environment that’s heavy on rhythmic interaction, than Weiss and bassist Francois Moutin. Weiss’ rhythmic mastery, which covers everything from Indian music to modern jazz, and has been at the heart of some of saxophonist David Binney’s groundbreaking recordings, is always at the center of these pieces. Moutin can provide walking bass lines on the few, brief occasions that they’re called for, but his ability to serve as the go-between for Weiss and Nechushtan is a greater asset. He emphasizes choppy accents with the pianist (“The Traveler”) and the drummer (“Muppet Shock”), and cleverly navigates his way through a piece that moves from wonderfully discombobulated soul to sunny environs to menacing, avant-ballroom music and beyond (“Spinning The Clouds”). As a soloist, Moutin is also the standout musician on the album. His blinding speed and supple movements help to create first rate feature spots that enhance every track where he’s given room to do his work. As the man pulling the strings, Nechushtan is never short on ideas for his compositions, or in performance. He can comfortably erect a harmonic edifice around a single note (“Different Kind Of Morning”), deliver straightforward soloing over driving swing (“Dr. Master Plan’) and go it alone if his band mates drop out mid-track (“Spinning The Clouds”). While he prefers complex angles to straightaways, the music never strays into inaccessible territory, as he clearly prefers taking people along for a ride to driving solo. Alon Nechushtan’s Words Beyond is worlds beyond where most jazz musicians are willing and able to travel, making this album a worthwhile listening journey. DAN BILAWSKY

New album by Israeli (resident in NY) pianist Alon Nechushtan, this time in a trio setting with bassist Francois Moutin and drummer Dan Weiss, which presents nine brilliant compositions by the leader and an exceptional performance by the trio. Nechushtan is of course fondly remembered for his fantastic work with the Talat (“The Growl” on Tzadik Records), which to this day is one of my favorite albums of the last decade. This album is completely different from his work with Talat, which combined Jazz and Klezmer / Hasidic music, and presents superb modern Jazz unrelated to any particular ethnic references. Nechushtan again shines both as a composer, with his tunes sounding like instant classics, which could have been composed by the likes of Chick Corea or Herbie Hancock and as player, displaying dazzling technique and sensitivity. His supporting team is also brilliant all the way, with Moutin doing some incredible stuff with his bass (don´t try this at home) and Weiss beating the hell out of the drum kit, but always right on the beat. Overall this is a great album, immensely enjoyable and deeply moving emotionally. I can´t imagine any true Jazz fan not falling in love with this album instantly, and therefore I recommend it wholeheartedly. A true must! Adam Baruch

“New York-based pianist Alon Nechushtan has worked as a sideman with the likes of Frank London and Baya Kouyate and is the founder of the quintet TALAT, a critically acclaimed jazz-meets-klezmer ensemble. Nechushtan makes a bold statement with Words Beyond, his first release as leader of a progressive trio featuring bassist Francois Moutin and drummer Dan Weiss. The music is a hard swinging, soulful collection of nine of the pianist’s original compositions. Nechushtan has the ability to reshape a small morsel of melody into imaginative configurations. His ideas flow freely, utilizing both hands to emphasize a punchy, aggressive attack. Right from the opening blues of “Muppet Shock,” one can sense influences as diverse as Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson and Keith Jarrett. An unrelenting drive to swing as hard as he can is heard on tunes such as “Dr. Masterplan,” with a twisted reference to “Take the A-Train,” and the closing McCoy Tynerish “The Traveler.” Weiss and Moutin work well in support of Nechushtan, playing on top of the beat and reacting in accord to the pianist’s highly syncopated style. Moutin’s rapid-fire, thumb position soloing matches Nechushtan in both technique and intensity. Weiss keeps the grooves crackling with an enticing looseness, especially on the funkiness of “Entranced” and the glistening “Different Kind of Morning.” Exceptional camaraderie and engaging performances make Words Beyond a trio recording worthy of the most discerning listener. ”John Vincent Barron

This expressive/progressive jazz pianist like to let it hang in left leaning fashion as you can hear echoes of Monk and progressive Jarrett (without the humming) running through this engaging set that doesn’t really like to acknowledge boundaries. Airy, bright and a lot more fun that you would normally associate with cerebral jazz, I guess eggheads need to crack a smile once in a while too. Fun stuff from places you would least expect it and a friendly listen to boot. Check it out ! CHRIS SPECTOR

Pianist Alon Nechushtan is in the thick of things, amid a vibrant New York City jazz culture that often spawns deviating tangents and inventive ideologies. Indeed, the pianist reveals astounding technical faculties and a far-reaching approach to composition. Nechushtan’s jazz-klezmer band TALAT, amid numerous forays into modern jazz and unconventional settings, intermittently gels to the beat of a markedly different drummer The program conveys Nechushtan’s unbounded vision, as he overhauls the tried and true. With the musicians’ pristine mode of execution abetted by precision-oriented passages, emotive dialogues and demanding time signatures, they impart a passionate stance and occasionally surge the sinuous flows into the upper stratosphere. They temper the proceedings on “Spring Soul Song,” which is fabricated on ballad-based overtones and a subtle jazz-waltz motif. Here, Nechushtan emits a glistening effect atop the venerable rhythm section’s crisp and fluid accompaniment. Moreover, the pianist summons a cheery panorama via a few sharp U-turns and undulating chord clusters. His uplifting storyline, effortless phraseology and acute penchant for suspense are enhanced by zinging harmonics. Words Beyond is, to a large extent, miles beyond customary piano trio fare, when viewed from a consortium of divergent perspectives. Personnel: Alon Nechushtan: piano; Francois Moutin: bass; Dan Weiss: drums. By GLENN ASTARITA

Dan Weiss, one of an elite handful of young creative drummers, is known for his multiple musical personalities, easily adapting to the dictates of diverse musical environments while maintaining a distinctive voice. Three recent releases demonstrate his versatility. Words Beyond, from pianist Alon Nechushtan, is a ‘straight’-ahead trio outing that is decidedly crooked, full of zig-zagging melodies and jagged rhythms that sustain a tense, restless mood. Although his melodies and chord voicings retain traces of blues and gospel, the complex phrases and forms push the music towards the future. Bassist François Moutin and Weiss are well able to maneuver the various twists and turns, acquitting themselves with seeming ease. Moutin, like Charles Mingus, plays with great speed, flash and funk, delivering dazzling solos on “Different Kind of Morning” and “Secret Short/Short Secret”, also engaging Nechushtan in an exciting dual/duel on the former track. Weiss sometimes sounds like several personalities at once, as on the opening “Muppet Shock”, his easy swinging ride cymbal in one hand, an aggressive snare drum in the other. Tom Greenland


I seem to like a piano trio that is well marinated in rhythm. No matter how lush – both hands on the keyboard and the sustain pedal pressed – or how spare, if served with that extra dash of flavor, I’m hooked. Alon Nechushtan’s ‘Words Beyond’ hits the spot. From the opening moments of the jaunty ‘Muppet Shock’, the bass, drum and piano are perfectly immersed and proportioned.

Nechushtan works with the klezmer influenced group Talat, but the straight ahead “Words Beyond” is his debut under his own name. His co-creators are Dan Weiss on drums and Francois Moutin on bass. While the obvious ingredients are the highly complimentary accompaniment and strong melodic tunes, I think that the secret one is his fast and confident phrasing.

The aforementioned ‘Muppet Shock’ kicks off with a twinkling melody that bounces playfully off the rhythm section. After the Monk-like knot of a melody plays out, the group relaxes into uptempo solos, showcasing their ample chops. Nechushtan’s comping is minimal but buoys the proceedings precisely. ‘Different Kind of Morning’ evolves rapidly into a modern jazz tune, with a straightforward melody and inspired improvisation. Things keep chugging along with ‘Spinning the Clouds’, but this one features a lithe backbeat and some subtle hard bop inspired riffs. ‘Secret Short – Short Secret’ is a seven minute excursion that, to me, is the highlight of the album. It features the piano spinning a melody and harmony that makes great use of the lower register of the piano, which then leads into a solo by Moutin that is a joy to follow – I particularly enjoy the piano’s comping behind the bass. Even ‘Heartbreakthrough’, which is the sole ballad of the set, has a tender introspectiveness but contains just enough hint of the spice.

Alon Nechushtan’s Beyond Words is a smart synthesis of styles and genres of jazz made modern. Stylistic homages to Monk and abstract quotes dot the playing and compositions. The net effect is a lively work showcasing excellent group cohesion and imaginative playing. Lots of fun! By Paul Acquaro


TALAT is a Dynamic new ensemble based in New York that plays original music crossing the borders of Jazz, Middle Eastern Groove and Klezmer. Featuring a quintet of some of the most talented players out of the new generation, this is a brilliant debut CD that will delight fans of Masada, Rashanim, Satlah and the Hasidic New Wave. Loping melodies, catchy hooks and improvisational fireworks from a new generation bringing Jewish music to exciting new places…”

Alon Nechushtan’s TALAT brings something unxepected to every track, playing blues, funk and even mellower tunes has compelling chemistry in abundance. This kind of fluidity cannot be accomplished unless solid relationships are both ecnouraged and formed between musicians.”

Alon Nechushtans’ band TALAT is a group based out of New York City. Their meshing of Klezmer music with other musical discliplines is what makes up their sound. Using Klezmer as the backbone of the sound allows Talat to use Israel as not only a physical but musical melting pot homeland an thus other styles come into play: North African modes and Middle Eastern rhythms conduct themselves as if in a lively conversation in a busy market. Just about all the composition on the recording clock in at over 5 minutes allowing the band to stretch out with many fine improvisational passages. The Jazz aspects (as well as the textured, spacey grooves that serve as interludes) seem reflect the musicians New York City experiences as part of their melting pot sound.If you like challenging yet engaging improvisational instrumental music then Talat is for your ears !

Alon Nechushtan’s TALAT producess an unclassifiable sound with the release of their recent album, The Growl. With brasses blowing and cascading piano keys, the sextet fuses traditional cultural sounds with new grooves and jives of the modern jazz age. “The Growl” appropriately commences the album, boasting a diverse collection of sounds and audio experiences. Teasing the listening audience with a taste of their versatility, Talat utilizes 9 minutes and 29 seconds to relax the listener, have them dancing in their seats, and then entrancing them, in the final moments, with mystical jazzy compositions. Talat’s wide array of musical mastering and expertise coalesce in The Growl, a masterpiece guaranteed to leave a multicultural purring in your ears.

Alon Nechushtan’s TALAT’s sly klez-jazz hybrid sounds right at home at John Zorn’s Tzadik Label, which has recently released the quintet’s debut: The Growl

Alon Nechushtan’s TALAT is a NY based quintet with exceptional abilities and technique- hearing this album really knocked me out completely. Never before have I heard such a harmonious and clever interchange of Klezmer and jazz, almost painfully brilliant. The music cleverly moves between the Klezmer-like melodies and the jazz-like improvisations with such ease and elegance that the transition seems to be perfectly natural and smooth. The arrangements are devilishly clever and intricate, but easy on the ear, so this wonderful music should please even the less experienced listeners who had little experience with contemporary improvised music. This is a rare gem and an essential examp le of music transcending the limitations of what is considered humanly possible. A must!

Alon Nechushtan’s TALAT’s inaugural recording, The Growl, while paying its considerable dues to klezmer, covers more bases, including African and Middle Eastern music, plus spiritual themes, all processed through improvised contexts that plays on all the familiar shticks of klezmer, but stresses the quintet’s tight interplay and fluidity.

Alon Nechushtans’ TALAT inclines toward Ashkenaz, Sephardic and modern Jazz all at once, and gets most of its juice from trumpeter Matt Shulman, reveals an unsuspected affinity for jewish music and a startling ability to combine it with free jazz, improvisation and multiphonic trumpet playing, which make it seems like singing and sometimes screaming – through the instruments while playing …

Composed of five accomplished musicians, TALAT plays original interpretations of klezmer, Middle Eastern grooves and African themes and spirituals, roaming between the borders of jazz, groove and improvisation. With piano, trumpet, saxophone, bass and percussion, TALAT offers improvised interludes, riveting solos and spontaneous team play. Combined with familiar riffs and lively rhythms, they create music that is as challenging as it is appealing. Bandleader and pianist Alon Nechushtan is a graduate of the New England Conservatory and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, and the recipient of numerous awards and grants. The band’s debut recording on the prestigious Tzadik label earned accolades from music critics around the world. TALAT has toured in the US, Europe and the Middle East, and this is their DC debut.

Alon Nechushtan’s TALAT plays a lively, horn-heavy brand of jazz. Their roots are firmly and fundamentally planted in bebop, but their deep Jewish influences push them into unique territory :classy jazz with an adventurous spirit and not a shred of pretension, has a real creation on their hands, and they deserve to be heard :alluring, cerebral, technically impressive.

Alon Nechushtan’s TALAT, an exciting quintet joins the ranks of groups like new Klezmer Trio and Masada with their release of The Growl, Has the ability to add a strong underlying harmonic foundation or simply mix the obvious amounts of klezmer and jazz, free or otherwise, with classical music influence and up to date harmonic sense that leans toward jazz from the past decade.This album has something for everybody and Talat is a group worthy of a lot more attention.

Alon Nechushtan’s TALAT seamlessly merges Jewish Klezmer stylizations with Middle Eastern modalities into a largely, persuasive modern jazz vibe. With sonorous flows, prophetic themes and propulsive shifts in momentum, the musicians indulge in tension/release episodes, topped off with melodic storylines, where the artists fuse explorative frameworks with a dancehall type sensibility. Overall, this is a radiantly produced session, firmed-up by the group’s conveyance of good cheer and excellence in execution.”

TALAT plays thrilling jazz music on the sharpest edge of the knife, accompanied by a good amount of melancholia. We also hear klezmer influences, loose completely, while just moments later everything falls back into its place. Shulman(Trumpet) and Mommaas (Sax) continuously chasing each other, playing

through, under, next to, and against each other, just moments later returning to a splendid unisono. Pavolka (Bass) and Perlson (Drums) form the perfect rhythm section, with here and there beautiful, suprisingly short, but extremely sharp solos. All in all: jazz as we like to hear it, sharp and tight melodious and exciting flavors from start to finish from this master quintet. By Marc Nolis
TALAT provides a unique instrumental approach thanks to horn frontmen Matt Shulman (trumpet), and Marc Mommaas (sax): screaming, growling and chasing each other with instant, rapid motion one moment but yet tender and gentle at others. For the lovers of John Zorn’s Hasidic Jazz and his project Masada, it is highly recommended to check out the debut of New York based quintet TALAT with the release of ‘the Growl’ :Avant Jazz growls and Klezmer equally trade off ! by Dmitry Anushin

Orchestra, FRANCE
TALAT is a quintet jazz which gathers some of the best musicians of rising generation New Yorkean. This mixture of jazz and klezmer will impassion the amateurs of Masada, Rashanim and Satlah. Alon Nechushtan, keyboards/Marc Mommaas, saxophones/Matt Pavolka, double bass/Jordan perlson, battery/ Matt Shulman, trumpet. by Jean Godin

TALAT‘s The Growl’ is a wonderful refreshing soulful energetic album, makes you want to experience the band live so hold your breathe until you experience the band playing live sooner than later . By Arne Schumacher

Jazz up late, AUSTRALIA
TALAT plays sophisticated neo Jewish stylizations of contemporary jazz and klezmer combo, that i find intriguing and joyfull, adding new groovy music in several tracks has an intersting approach to the canonical jewish
By Gerry koster

Jewish Independent, CANADA
TALAT is a New York-based ensemble who fuse experimental jazz and klezmer rhythms. The band’s debut album, The Growl, features the kind of music you’d expect to hear in a big-city basement piano bar but with a twist. “Hasidic Monk” has a sample of “Avinu Malkeinu” worked into the undertow, while “Tikkun Olam (A Ladder to the Rainbow)” riffs off popular favorite “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Overall this is multi- flavored jazz infused with the spirit of Miles Davis. By Katharine Hamer.

Ruta66, SPAIN
TALAT is another magnificent surprise in this years debut albums with its release of The Growl . This Cheerfull Quintet from New York excels with its hybrid imposition of Jazz and other European forms like Klezmer influences. This CD has a lot to offer for either fans of groups like Massada and to bebop lovers of the music of Thelonius Monk. By Jose Francicso Tapiz.



The sound of paper is as much part of the score as is the live accordion playing of the composer, Alon Nechushtan.by Emily Macel.

In “Fold”, which features live music by the Israeli composer Alon Nechushtan, Ms. Pulvermacher explores the potential transformations of the acts of folding and unfolding with wild imagination. By Gia Kourlas

In “Fold,” Pulvermacher’s unearthing of the meanings and consequences of folding and unfolding is aided tremendously by Alon Nechushtan’s cleverly amalgamated scor, A simple folk song (with a lyric by Pulvermacher), Middle Eastern-flavored accordion music, hip-pop sounds, famous classical recordings, affecting text, and exuberant vocalizations impel the dancers’ intense interactions with elaborate origami creations. By Lisa Jo Sagolla.

In “Iodine”, set to shards of sound in accompaniment composed by Alon Nechushtan, black flag is repeatedly hoisted. By Jennifer Dunning.

“The Score composed by Alon Nechushtan was varied with each vignette, rhythmic, tightly mimic the quick beat of the dance.” By Emily Macel.

“Drifting about to Alon Nechushtan’s whale song, proved a restful examination of choral movement.” By Helen Shaw.

“The ominous noises and echoing voices of Alon Nechushtan’s music, they’re sometimes tender, sometimes fiercely manipulative with each other.” Deborah Jowitt.

The most exciting choreography of the evening occurred during the opening moments of Norman’s sextet, “Closer.” Bathed in an individual pool of light, each dancer, one at a time, presented an engrossing movement phrase in interpretation of the delicious jazz score composed by Alon Nechushtan. By Lisa Jo Sagolla.

“An original score by Alon Nechusthan of the Talat Trio lent a buoyant rhythm to the dance.” Darrah Carr.

Plus, there’s a whole new cast of varsity players ready to please atrium aficionados, including the brilliant, genre bending, risk-taking Israeli pianist Alon Nechushtan.
Here’s the season lineup: AlonNechushtan Trio at the Hartford Library. Owen Mcnally

Jessica Alba and her daughters, Honor, 6, and Haven, 2, visited the Children’s Museum of Manhattan recently, where they attended the “All Jazzed Up Performance” by Alon Nechushtan in the lower level, a spy tells us. After catching the performance, a low-key Alba and her excited girls headed to the main floor, where they were spotted playing in the EatSleepPlay: Building Health Every Day exhibit. “They stayed for several hours,” says our snitch.

Red Hook Jazz Festival 
(Sunday) This proudly grass-roots festival takes place on two consecutive Sundays in a community garden near the industrial Brooklyn waterfront. Highlights of the first installment include Trio X, featuring Joe McPhee on saxophone and trumpet, with the guest violinist and vocalist Rosi Hertlein; a pair of trios led respectively by the guitarist Ben Monder and the keyboardist Shai Maestro; and the Alon Nechushtan Quintet, featuring the tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin and others. (Also on June 21.) From 1 to 6 p.m., Urban Meadow, (Chinen)

Pianist and composer Alon Nechushtan doesn’t always create Jewish jazz, but when he does, it’s recognizably Jewish-sounding. He may use a Hasidic melody, a klezmer or Israeli dance rhythm or something straight from the synagogue — or a combination thereof. It’s that Jewish musical anchor that sets Nechushtan, 42, apart from some of his more experimental colleagues in the Radical Jewish Culture scene (and, yes, that’s a thing, referring to the avant-garde Jewish music scene that has emerged in the last three decades).

“In my eyes,” says the Israel-raised, New York-based musician, “you can play with a lot of things, but something has to be there at the core.”Nechushtan will exhibit his jazz chops, as well as teach a workshop titled “Fusing Middle Eastern Musical Elements with Jazz,” during a rapid-fire, two-day swing through the Bay Area next weekend. First, he’ll be part of the annual Flower Piano program in Golden Gate Park’s botanical garden from 12 to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 20, performing a solo piano set in the Ancient Plant Garden while others play nearby in the Rhododendron Garden, the Conifer Lawn and other gorgeous spots. He promises “a few melodies from early klezmer” and notes that “I do take requests.” Later that day at 7:30 p.m., a quartet Nechushtan has put together will open for the Shay Salhov Quartet at a small music hall in San Jose called Art Boutiki. They’ll play mainly jazz and contemporary jazz, but for sure “you’ll hear klezmer tunes … a Jewish blend with jazz,” he says. The next day, Sunday July 21, Nechushtan will teach a workshop on how to infuse jazz with Middle Eastern musical elements from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley. He says he’ll shine a light on Judeo-Arabic musical modes, unique rhythms and beat patterns, and Andalusian and klezmer styles.. Then, to cap his whirlwind schedule, he will perform less than three hours later, at 4 p.m, with the Alon Nechushtan Trio in an Oakland Jazz Workshop concert at Jack London Square. By the time the last note is played, Nechushtan will have done four events in about 30 hours. Oh, and a mere four days before all of that happens, he’ll be leading his Talat quartet in a concert of his arrangements of Chabad-Lubavitch nigguns (melodies) in Brooklyn, New York. He describes those pieces as “my twist” on when his grandfather took him to a Chabad village near where he grew up in Rishon LeTzion, Israel.

Talat released a Jewish-inflected jazz CD called “The Growl” on the Tzadik label in 2007. Nechushtan himself has released four additional CDs and a concert DVD. He has performed at Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, and on tours through China, Israel and the Philippines. Last summer he gave a talk and demonstration at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley titled “What is Jewish Music?” In addition, Nechushtan composes for jazz orchestra, classical settings and ambient electronics. His works have been featured on several CDs and have been performed in the United States and Israel. When it comes to adding Jewish elements to music, Nechushtan offers several professional tips.

“Rhythm may be the most important, because rhythm is close to dance, and klezmer is for the dance,” he says. “Many of the rhythms were not created by Jews, but adopted.” Next, he points to “the modes that came from the synagogue, [which] existed from Andalusian times and earlier. If you look at the Jews of Djerba, an island off Tunisia, they weren’t occupied by outside forces.” In fact, they date their origin to Jews who arrived from Jerusalem following the destruction of the First Temple. He calls these modes “a direct link to what we might have perceived in the First Temple. You can hear these modes coming up in our faces. These are ours, not altered.”

Last summer, Nechushtan was composer, librettist, dialogist, pianist and one-man production crew for “Survival Codes,” a three-hour jazz opera that premiered at the Brooklyn Music School. A fictional work in English with modern references, the opera tells the story of Soviet Jews’ hope during decades of anti-Semitism and persecution. “It took me a lot of time to write it, to rehearse,” he says. “Two months of daily rehearsals with a cast of 40.”

Nechushtan admits that balancing his multifaceted career, which also includes working with ballet companies, is challenging “Ten years ago I asked Uri Caine, a monster musician and composer, how do you do all that? One of the things he told me is you go project-to-project, take the time needed and then you go on.” Though Nechushtan’s opera lost money, he subscribes to the maxim that success is “jumping from one failure to another failure without losing enthusiasm.” He adds: “When you think about it this way, even if a project loses money, is it a failure? I don’t know. I’m already looking at writing the next opera.” Andrew Muchin

There is the history of textbooks and academic tomes. There is the history of witness testimony. And then there is the history, conveyed through art, suspended between truth-telling and imagination, which is the beginning of myth. Watching a rehearsal of Alon Nechushtan’s new jazz-opera Survival Codes, I thought about the relationship between history and mythology. The play is about the world of Soviet Jewish refuseniks—a slice of recent Jewish narrative familiar to me through family stories, books, and films. Yet, it occurred to me, there is something about musical theater that has the power to move history deeper into mythology. The birth of a myth is not a mysterious, inexplicable moment, buried in time. It was happening right in front of me, at rehearsal, in the creaky, old building of the Brooklyn Music School, among the eerily empty rows of seats, with a scattering of a few friends, press members, and the play’s director, James Martinelli, who was shouting directives to the actors, and working out the tech cues.

Survival Codes, which premieres on June 28, is written by Nechushtan, an Israeli-born composer and multi-instrumentalist who also plays piano during the performance. Although he calls Survival Codes a jazz-opera, Nechushtan is reluctant to assign a specific genre label to the work. As he told me in our phone interview: “I was trying to literally break every box that I could. … I just wrote what I wanted to hear.” The result is, indeed, eclectic—the score contains jazz and soul grooves, classical-sounding compositions, and plenty of references to pop. At one point, you discern a klezmer-tinged take on The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” Another piece alludes, in its melody, to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

In addition to writing the music, Nechushtan composed the libretto, as well as the dialogue. The idea for the work occurred to him during an artist residency in Ossining, New York, which is the home of Sing Sing, a notorious correctional facility. Needless to say, imprisonment and exile, as well as the endless paranoia of an arrest that can happen at any time, is central to the refusenik story, and is thus among the central motifs of the play. The motif’s corollary, liberation, is linked with the characters’ ability to communicate with one another. Indeed, when the phone lines are tapped, and the walls have ears, one needs code to speak about forbidden matters. Code is a classic survival tactic of the oppressed, a language in disguise, and a lifeline for a culture whose independence is being thwarted. Yet, codes also belong to the realm of the mystics, who deal with concepts that simply cannot be conveyed through everyday language. In Nechushtan’s jazz-opera, the notion of the code belongs to both of these worlds.

In fact, the drama’s central tension is between code’s utilitarian purpose as a means of survival and its lofty transcendent usage. The protagonist, Bruno (Brandon Fox), is a Soviet composer and activist. He is zealous about Judaism and wields, in equal measure, wit, guilt, and ideology to convince his reluctant love interest, Eliza (Sharon Harms, a soprano), to stand with his cause. At the same time, he wants to use music to invent a perfect means of communication.

He can’t use, say, Yiddish, for even though it is not a language terribly familiar to most KGB operatives, there were always informers around. Hebrew would raise even more suspicions. It seems that a refusenik, or anyone exiled within one’s own country, needs to invent a brand new language—a language that isn’t tied to any decodable past. A language that, because of its peculiar mission and circumstances, becomes sacred. The theme has a personal relevance for Nechushtan, whose mother was born in the Soviet Union and immigrated to Israel in the 1970s. Hearing and overhearing her stories made an impact on the composer. In addition to reading works by Vladimir Slepak, Natan Sharansky, Ida Nudel and other iconic refuseniks, Nechushtan joined a number of Facebook groups of Soviet émigrés, and inquired among their members about coded languages, the paranoia, and life in the former Soviet Union. The composer sees these people as active contributors to his play, largely through social media. “My [first] question was simple,” Nechushtan said. “Did you use secret codes to communicate with your fellow Jews? A simple question like that brought on hundreds of responses.” Like ancient bards composing their mythic tales based on witness testimony, contemporary versions of mythmaking involve Facebook groups.

Nechushtan’s Bruno is a peculiar character: He has heroic ambitions, yet is often resigned. He scoffs at a “well-wisher” who issues him the “penultimate reminder that the system cannot be broken, no matter how talented you are.” But then, not too long thereafter, he broods: “Mission unaccomplished.” Bruno is not a political figure—he is an artist. The relationship between Bruno and Eliza is the backdrop of the work. From the outset, they are each other’s opposite—ideologically, as well as musically. Eliza wants to assimilate at all costs; Bruno is stubbornly anti-assimilationist. As the story unfolds, other characters come in, taking their place at either side of the divide, separating the two protagonists. At first, Nechushtan thought “it was going to be a love story between a guy and a girl who have very different opinions about Judaism. I had no idea that it was going to turn into [a production] with almost 30 people on stage.”

Other, more subterranean, voices emerge in the play, too—those belonging to authors that inspired the writing of the work, among them, the Yiddish writers Dovid Bergelson and Chaim Grade. Grade’s famous lines, in Cynthia Ozick’s translation, “I wear Yiddish like a drowned man’s shirt, wearing out the hurt,” are quoted verbatim. In the context of a play, they belong to one of the characters, and that is particularly haunting, given that Grade composed his piece to elegize Soviet Yiddish poets murdered by Stalin. In Nechushtan’s interpretation, the poem belongs to an artist, whose life resembles the experience of those elegized by Grade. To Grade, Yiddish is a drowned man’s shirt because to speak Yiddish is to remain in a state of mourning for the perished speakers of Yiddish. To Bruno, Yiddish is a drowned man’s shirt because he remains identified and endangered by his Jewishness.

As I sat in the dim theater watching the rehearsal, I was struck by the collaborative nature of the work. The play’s director, James Martinelli, was yelling his Brooklyn-accented directives from the back. Nechushtan was dashing in and out of the orchestra pit. Stage techs were updating cues and moving props. The actors were breaking mid scene, conferring, and working out their relationship to their characters. Some of them were still fine tuning their accents and intonations. Were they trying to sound Russian? Jewish? Do they actually sound like Americans trying to sound Russian? None of them, as far as I could tell, were native speakers. And that, strangely, is what made the play seem more mythic, universal, and mysterious. JAKE MARMER

 A significant portion of Radical Jewish Culture artists attended the New England Conservatory, including Glenn Dickson, Jamie Saft, Alon Nechushtan, Oren Bloedow, and Frank London, as did Don Byron, whose Mickey Katz tribute album (1993) also predates the Radical Jewish Culture series. The New England Conservatory is home to both the Klezmer Conservatory Band and a number of avant-garde/new music advocates. Josh Kun University of Southern California

|Alon’s success as a musician quite amazes him, considering the fact that he is three-quarters deaf. “in the first months of my life, some kind of disease damaged my hearing.” At the age of three, his parents took him for tests and discovered that Alon is completely deaf in his left ear, and that he has only 75% hearing in his left ear. “I know the term ‘stereo,’ I understand what it means, but I’ve never experienced stereophonic hearing,” he says as he directs his eyes forward, to the street, to point his left ear at me. “If too many different voices come from several different sources, sometimes it just sounds like noise,” he admits.

The compensation for the limited hearing was the musical family background. “My mother is a music teacher,” he says, “we had a piano at home and I learned to read sheet music and play it from a young age. When I was growing up there was always classical music in the air.” But Alon did not expect the moment when he could develop a career in music. “I was aware that I don’t hear normally, that I have a hearing problem. That’s why I started my musical career as a composer. On paper, what I need is a good understanding of music and imagination.” Nearly a decade ago, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in composition at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and was recognized as a modern composer.

But about a decade ago, when he moved from Jerusalem to Boston, he decided to dare and go on stage. “The composer sits at the back of the stage and the musicians stand in the front, performing the music and giving it their interpretation. I depend on them. I felt that I had to overcome this distance. I wanted to play the pieces I write myself, despite the limitations. I decided that I did want to get to the front of the stage, to say : ‘Now I’m here! I wrote this music, I play it, I’m responsible for it from beginning to end,’ and I reached this point when I moved to New York.”

Out of the thousands of people Alon has played alongside, only a few close friends are aware of his hearing impairment. “I don’t usually tell people about it. It always amazes and pleases me that I am able to improvise with them without them noticing. I never had to apologize. I never said, excuse me, I can’t hear. I found that if I sit at the right angle to the hearing ear , I can understand the music perfectly. They always tell jokes about the blind sniper, or the shoemaker who walks barefoot. A musician who is almost deaf, it’s almost a joke. But it turns out that it is possible.” Orli Santo

ALON NECHUSHTAN playing in L.A. July 10-12 : There’s a real toughness of mind and spirit in the way Alon Nechushtan grabs hold of his music and hurls it into the air. Born in Tel Aviv, the New York-based pianist/composer brings his Russian/Hungarian/Transylvanian/Uzbekistanian roots to bear in choice new jazz meltdowns that pay their respects to the classical and folk strains of his forebears while savoring jazz’s freedom to, well, totally mess with ‘em. Nechushtan has gotten big props for his probing and athletic piano in various jazz and klezmer groups (he leads the band Talat, which released a 2007 record on John Zorn’s Tzadik label), and has composed for large ensembles in the U.S. and Israel.

Among a healthy heaping platter of other things, Latin, blues and a touch of gospel twine with Ashkenaz/Sephardic and Coltrane-/Tyner-ish modalities on Nechushtan’s new Venture Bound (enja), a happily bold batch of tunes done with the aid of a ripping band including sax men Donny McCaslin and John Ellis, trumpeter Duane Eubanks, bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Adam Cruz. In tracks like the opener “L’Avventura” you’ll hear a post-post bop that kills so nice with its easy flow of simply great chords, the melodies and harmonies going every which way (and seemingly in opposite directions sometimes). The band fits Nechushtan’s exploratory moods like they were born to do so, hopping through devilish times and countertimes spliced into single lines with gleeful ease and flair.

It’s great how nothing comes off forced or contrived in the kaleidoscopic variety this composer wedges into his longer pieces such as “Snow Flow” and “The Gratitude Suite,” the latter hybridizing klezmer-aligned melodic lines with lovely Eberhard Weber-ish bass melodicisms and one very fine trumpet solo. “Haunted Blues” is anything but as the band scales great pyramids of harmonic/melodic/rhythmic interplay; “Snow Flow” and “F.A.Q.” make even more clear Nechushtan’s disciplined compositional approach, which gives his pieces a satisfying (and helpful) sense of shape and symmetry –– and he and his soloists thus make every note count. Nope, nothing drags on too long in this new jazz, in tunes that are in reality quite short ‘n’ sweet but have the effect of having really taken you someplace. Venture Bound is beautiful, invigorating music, smartly conceived and joyfully played. Who could ask for more?

Alon Nechushtan is flying high right about now and most likely nowhere near peaking. If you’re in L.A., you owe it to yourself to catch him doing what he does at these three performances: on July 10, 8 p.m., at the Levantine Center; July 11, 7 p.m., at Upstairs at Vitellos Jazz Club; and July 12, 8 p.m., at Curve Line Space. – John Payne

2024 SoundNow Festival (Concert 1) January 28, 2024 Core Dance Studio Decatur, GA – USA Atlanta Contemporary Ensemble: Amy Wilson, coductor; Charles Gunsaullus, violin; Brittany Ross, viola; Ben Shirley, cello; Gabriel Monticello, bass; Judith Klein, flute; Bora Moon, clarinet; Eric Fontaine, saxophone; Caleb Herron, percussion; Frankie Freeman & Paul Jenkins, dancers; Krista M. Jones, visual artist.

Alon NECHUSHTAN:  Fractured Fairy Tales by Alon Nechushtan, scored for violin, viola, and cello, was fashioned in a decidedly post-Bartok style, offering a comfortable volley between consonance and dissonance that seemed to reflect the color consonances and shape dissonances of the art in question. Howard Wershil EarRelevant, Atlanta’s voice for classical and post-classical music

Finding an Israeli pianist with an affinity for klezmer music might seem like an easy task, but Alon Nechushtan is more than a rarity. Though he grew up in Rishon LeTzion, a suburb just north of Tel Aviv, and graduated with a degree in classical composition from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Nechushtan didn’t start exploring Jewish music until he landed in Boston in 2003. His interest in jazz had been piqued in Israel via New York saxophonist Arnie Lawrence, who mentored a rising generation of Israeli jazz stars after moving to Jerusalem in 1997. But it wasn’t until he connected with Hankus Netsky, the chair of New England Conservatory’s contemporary improvisation department, that Nechushtan found his way into klezmer, the secular celebratory music of Ashkenazi Jewry.

“In Israel there’s antagonism to klezmer, because it’s connected to Hasids,” Nechushtan said. “As a secular person, I thought, that’s them, not me. But Hankus sparked that interest when I was studying at NEC, tying klezmer to contemporary improvisation and Gunther Schuller’s Third Stream music, which brings jazz and classical together. Klezmer falls into it really well, because there’s improvisation and room to write your own melodies.” Klezmer will be part of the mix when Nechushtan returns to the Bay Area next month for a series of gigs, starting Feb. 1 in San Francisco at the Civic Center supper club Mr. Tipple’s. He’s playing two shows celebrating Black History Month with his Copperhead Trio featuring saxophonist James Mahone, focusing on a body of open-ended tunes steeped in African American improvisational practices.

On Feb. 2 he presents a program of klezmer, Sephardic and North African–influenced jazz with his Jewish Music Quintet at the Sunset Music and Art series, featuring reed player Matt Renzi, trumpeter Ian Carey, bassist Matt Montgomery and drummer Isaac Schwartz. The same quintet performs Feb. 3 at the Palo Alto JCC’s Jewish Music Series. Klezmer served as something of a gateway for Nechushtan, a highly regarded composer whose music ranges across an array of traditions and idioms, from opera to free jazz. He’s lived in New York since 2005 but has become a regular presence in the Bay Area in recent years. Last November Nechushtan performed at Sonoma State as part of the school’s Jewish Music Series. In September he was ensconced in Golden Gate Park, making his fifth appearance at the San Francisco Botanical Garden’s Flower Piano event, a gig he basically subsidizes (“I don’t mind doing that schlep and losing a few dollars, because it’s such an inspiring setting”). And in June his one-act “Legit Secrets” premiered at Sacramento State as part of Four Corners Ensemble’s Operation Opera program.

“It seems like I’m back in the Bay Area every two or three months,” he said. All of the musicians performing with him next month are busy Bay Area jazz artists, a practice that Nechushtan has honed out of both inclination and economic reality over years of touring internationally. “I love traveling solo and connecting with the musicians who are there,” he said. “I’ll go to Brazil and give my charts to Brazilian musicians and they’ll add references to frevo, samba, xote or other Brazilian styles. I always try to write new music for the venues I play.” I’m trying to bring audiences a wider view of Jewish music in the 21st century.

His alliances with Bay Area musicians include Berkeley clarinetist/composer Ben Goldberg, a patriarch of the radical Jewish music movement centered on John Zorn’s Tzadik label. After playing together several times and recording some of Nechushtan’s pieces for clarinet and piano, Goldberg came away impressed by the breadth of his pursuits. “In some ways I see him as a serious composer and serious student of composition, a guy with a commitment to technical brilliance, but also someone who kind of shrugs that off, because he’s attained such a high level,” Goldberg said, while noting that Nechushtan’s concept goes far beyond technique and stylistic conventions. “He’s got his eyes on the prize in a different way.” Nechushtan makes it clear that when it comes to Jewish music, klezmer was a point of entry, not a destination. In keeping with his wide-open aesthetic, he has developed arrangements of music from across the diaspora “representing Sephardic and North African music as well,” he said. “It’s klezmer and beyond. There’s some Andalusian music I’ve arranged from the 16th and 17th centuries that was sung in Arabic and Ladino, and a hybrid of Jewish and Balkan music,” he added. “I’m trying to bring audiences a wider view of Jewish music in the 21st century.” The Copper-Head Trio featuring James Mahone7 and 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 at Mr. Tipple’s, 39 Fell St., S.F. $12-$25. Nechushtan will also perform with his Jewish Music Quintet on Friday, Feb. 2 at Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in San Francisco ($20-$25) and Saturday, Feb. 3 at Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto ($20-$40).
Andrew Gilbert

Alon Nechushtan and Global Beat: New York-based composer and pianist Alon Nechushtan and the group Global Beat will perform a lively concert drawn from a variety of genres, including jazz, Latin and klezmer. Nechushtan, originally from Israel, has performed at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, received commissions from organizations including the Smithsonian Museum, toured internationally, composed for many ensembles and orchestras worldwide and also released numerous albums.  Feb. 3, 7 p.m., Albert and Janet Schultz Cultural Arts Hall, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, $20-$40, paloaltojcc.org/eventsHeather Zimmerman


DOWNBEATAlon Nechushtan, Donny McCaslin, John Ellis, Chris Nightcap, Adam Cruz - Venture Bound - Amazon.com Music
Recently, during his West Coast tour, pianist Alon Nechushtan perched at the piano at Los Angeles’ intimate nightclub Vitello’s on a Friday night. The crowd was rest- less, but he quickly won them over. With unyield- ing assurance, he led his pick-up band through an extended set that touched upon blues, modal stan- dards and closed with a swinging touch of klezmer propelled by drummer Chris Wabich’s tambou- rine and Nechushtan’s own percussive rattle. The Israeli-born musician consistently demonstrated his vast skill-set with confidence and humor.It was the pen that brought him to the United States as a classical composition major at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Today, more than a decade later, Nechushtan is part of a growing cir- cle of jazz musicians bridging the musical realities of New York and Israel. Nechushtan credits saxophonist Arnie Lawrence (1938–2005), a former Tonight Show band contributor and the founder of the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York, with expanding his and many other Israeli kids’ horizons. In 1997, the saxophonist moved to Jerusalem and founded the International Center for Creative Music, where an impressionable young Nechushtan took in the sounds of swing. “He played a large role,” Nechushtan said. “He’s kind of a crusader in that manner. I remember hanging out with him and learning about jazz. He was very patient.” Jazz’s presence in Israel, relative to the history of the genre, is a fairly new phenomenon. The rise of internationally acclaimed artists like guitar- ist Roni Ben-Hur, violinist Miri Ben-Ari and the Cohen siblings (Anat, Avishai, Yuval) has helped broaden the appeal of swing in Israel, where jazz is now part of the sonic landscape.The pianist is levelheaded when discussing the current state of the Middle East. He diplomatical- ly avoids any comment on the summer’s unrest, focusing solely on the sounds coming from the stage and his unrelenting desire to return. Prior to his gig at Vitello’s, he shared a bill with the mighty Los Angeles-based Palestinian saxophonist Zane Musa. The two got along so well that Musa joined in the following night to blast through Nechushtan’s newest material. Nechushtan is happy to welcome as many voices to his compo- sitions as he can. “From a very early age, I wrote for classical ensembles but I always wanted to write a big band chart,” Nechushtan said. “Sometimes I keep the worlds separate. Sometimes I combine them. I went to school fascinated by Third Stream, clas- sical and jazz. You have to go from lead sheets to incredibly descriptive music. When you work with a small combo, they are an integral part of making that music [come] alive. You don’t have to have every gesture written down. My music is descriptive when it is a combo—not as much as when it is written down—but my creative process is the same.” As an undergraduate, Nechushtan began his jazz studies in earnest, taking up with pianists Danilo Pérez and Fred Hersch. “They were great teachers, but I wanted to study with New Yorkers like Uri Caine and Henry Threadgill. My idea was to come to New York and try. I didn’t know that I would love it and stay.”

His new album, Venture Bound (Enja), is an upbeat homage to that decision to stay. (He has lived in New York City for the last 10 years.) A small ensemble of New York-based heavy hit- ters help deliver his message.The dual tenor sax- ophone onslaught of Donny McCaslin and John Ellis ensures a breathless display of honking soul, while drummer Adam Cruz can dance like rain- drops or smash like polyrhythmic thunder. The entirely original set includes “The Gratitude Suite,” which splashes Eastern European modes over tight harmonies aided by trumpeter Duane Eubanks, while “Haunted Blues” features the pia- nist’s hard-bop swagger encircling the upper reg- ister.The engaging, accessible album is squarely focused in the pocket with the occasional sprin- kle of ancient modes to re!ect the pianist’s diverse background. Undeterred by the turmoil in his homeland, Nechushtan will continue to tour there. While he and his family have settled in New York, the lure of his roots is irresistible. “It’s a matter of playing to people who want to go out and hear music,” Nechushtan said. “If they are depressed and bombs are falling overhead, it’s a challenge of a different kind. It’s not a musical challenge. It starts to be a safety challenge. But I will be there no matter what.” —Sean J. O’Connell

“The single most salient fact about current jazz is its ongoing globalization. Jazz is an open-ended, self-renewing art form that draws strength from sources far outside itself. Example: Venture Bound. It is hardcore, up-to-the-minute small-ensemble jazz with a unique sonic signature. Alon Nechushtan was born in Tel Aviv. On “The Gratitude Suite,” the formal chiming of his piano introduction is overtaken by wheeling klezmer rhythms when the band kicks in. On “Dark Damsel,” Brahim Brigbane’s fidgeting oud, old and exotic and Middle Eastern, creates sinuous counterpoint with Nechushtan’s freeform 21st-century piano. “Pome(grenades)” starts as a headlong thrust, but then it careens back on itself, like a Balkan circle dance. Nechushtan now lives in New York and has internalized its unforgiving energy. He characterizes his album as “a continuous journey through a New York night seeking adventure.” Two of the city’s most steadfast saxophonists, Donny McCaslin and John Ellis, play on alternate tracks. Nechushtan’s nine original compositions are angular, meticulous and engaging. Venture Bound truly feels like a “continuous journey” because it veers down many city streets. Everyone-including bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Adam Cruz-takes turns leading the adventure, their edgy New York solos emerging from Nechushtan’s colorful ethnic context. Both McCaslin and Ellis take their time and sweat the details. Nechushtan himself is so embedded in the album concept that you are less aware of him as a soloist than as an intelligence that ties everything together. But in fact his individual piano statements are varied, concise and complete, sometimes twisting long, fine strands (“F.A.Q.”), sometimes digging in and grooving (“Serpentrails”). In the new millennium, many compelling jazz voices have come from Israel: Anat Cohen. The two Avishai Cohens (trumpeter and bassist). Omer Avital. Gilad Hekselman. Add Alon Nechushtan to the list. (Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times)

“Alon Nechushtan’s sparkling technical prowess allows him to swiftly navigate through multitude of styles and the results are revelatory”

Alon Nechushtan at Vitello’s :A composer-pianist who has performed with a range of ensembles around the world, Tel Aviv-born Alon Nechushtan offers joyfully drawn hints of his travels on his latest album “Venture Bound,” which features bright touches of classical and klezmer music. The album features a crack lineup in saxophonists Donny McCaslin and John Ellis as well as drummer Adam Cruz, but for this L.A. run of shows he’ll be backed by an ensemble that includes Brian Walsh on saxophone and a rhythm section of David Tranchina and Chris Wabich. Upstairs at Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. Fri., 8 p.m. $20 Also performing at Levantine Cultural Center, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Thurs., 8 p.m. $15 and Curve Line Space, 1577 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, Sat., 8 p.m. 

Pianist Alon Nechustan is full of surprises. His work with Talat— The Growl (Tzadik, 2007)—placed him in the alt klezmer jazz category, but he refused to stay put in that area. Nechustan changed gears with Words Beyond (Buckyball Records, 2011), casting aside his allegiance to Hebraic-tinged melodies so he could focus on the modern language of the jazz trio. Then he quickly abandoned that course-on-record, redefining himself as an electro-acoustic outlier with the grim Dark Forces (Creative Sources Recordings, 2011) and re-centering himself with Ritual Fire (Between The Lines, 2013), a ten-part suite for jazz quartet. Nechustan clearly doesn’t like to repeat himself, so it should come as no shock that Venture Bound is something different altogether. This record, perhaps more than any other in Nechustan’s discography, is the sum of the pianist-composer’s beliefs. He doesn’t paint himself into a specific corner or rely on a single guiding principle here. Instead, he simply tears down the walls of stylistic separation in his work, delivering a record that may be the truest representation of his artistic self.Nechustan’s interests in Middle Eastern-tinged creations, odd meters, direct melodies, and rhythmic rabble-rousing are on display throughout this date. As a soloist he’s capable of setting the mood via gorgeous sound painting, hammering down chordal proclamations, or casting off sprinting sixteenth note runs; as a composer, he’s capable of anything. Twist-and-turn constructs (mostly) in seven (“L’Avventura”), sunny silk-spun melodies that betray his roots (“The Gratitude Suite”), a somewhat Monk-ish creation (“Serpentrails”), an adrenaline-fueled danger ride (“Pome(Grenades”), and a taste of the old school (“Haunted Blues”) all surface at one time or another. The music on Venture Bound is basically built around a foursome, with Nechustan joining forces with bassist Chris Lightcap, drummer Adam Cruz, and one of two saxophonists—either John Ellis, who immediately establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with on “L’Avventura,” or the ever-impressive Donny McCaslin. A few guests drop in—trumpeter Duane Eubanks expands the frontline on a couple of occasions, oud player Brahim Fribgane re-contextualizes the group’s sound on “Dark Damsel,” and percussionist Rogerio Boccato adds a dash of percussive coloring—but this record still plays out as a four-man operation. Thus far, Alon Nechustan’s recorded oeuvre has marked him as a restless and wandering spirit; that’s what continually makes his work so interesting. Venture Bound finds him looking out in all directions, sharing wondrous views within anybody willing to look and listen.
Alon Nechushtan is a creative modern jazz pianist who, while inspired by his Israeli background and by post-bop jazz, has his own voice both as a pianist and as a composer. He moved to New York over a decade ago and has since performed with such notables as Don Byron, William Parker, Bob Moses, Ben Allison, Francisco Mela, Andy Statman, Chris Cheek, Chris Speed, Andrew Cyrille, the Frank London Trio, and Daniel Carter’s Quartet in addition to Klezmer bands and with avant-garde players. Nechushtan has led his own albums since 2004. Some of his music has mixed together jazz with Klezmer and Middle Eastern rhythms and grooves. He has composed new works for a wide variety of ensembles including for bass and electronics (Dark Forces), for saxophone quartet, and for larger bands, dance companies, visual artists, and soundtracks. Venture Bound, Alan Nechushtan’s eight CD as a leader, teams him with top musicians from New York. Most of the selections feature him in a quartet with bassist Chris Lightcap, drummer Adam Cruz and either John Ellis or Donny McCaslin on tenor. Ellis and McCaslin alternate throughout the set with Ellis on five of the nine selections and McCaslin on the other four. Two songs also include trumpeter Duane Eubanks while percussionist Roggeno Boccato and Brahim Brigbone on oud appear on one selection apiece. In the brief liner notes Alon Nechushtan says that “Each of the songs presented here is an homage, gratitude or tribute to some of my favorite pianists and composers.” Unfortunately he does not say who the tributes are honoring but it ultimately does not matter because the music is so rewarding. The opening “L’Avventura” features Nechushtan and John Ellis soloing over a fast 6/4 groove, playing music that is both adventurous and accessible. On “The Gratitude Suite,” the group effortlessly plays in 7/4. The long melody and the harmonies will remind one of the Middle East but the playing is definitely American-based jazz. McCaslin takes an excellent solo and Nechushtan, jamming over some unusual accents by Lightcap and Cruz, makes mincemeat of the 7/4 time. On the uptempo “Pome (Grenades),” Nechushtan really tears into the piece, displaying both virtuosity and a steady stream of creative ideas. “Dark Damsel” has a spot for Brigbone’s oud along with some dynamic tenor playing by McCaslin. “Sneak Peak” is a fast jazz waltz that inspires some heated solos. “Haunted Blues” is the most traditional sounding piece on the CD, a soulful number on which Nechushtan early in his solo even quotes Dizzy Gillespie’s “Good Bait.” Duane Eubanks makes his second appearance on this selection. “Snow-Flow” is taken in a fast 5/4 time and is most notable for John Ellis’ fluent soprano solo. The lyrical “F.A.Q.” and “Serpentrails” (based on Thelonious Monk’s “Ask Me Now”) conclude the well-rounded set. Venture Sound gives one a good sampling of today’s modern jazz scene and it is an excellent example of the artistry of Alon Nechushtan.  Alon Nechushtan ‘Venture Bound . By Scott Yanow
When I heard that Alon Nechushtan had a new album out, I was quite curious to hear it. I had been quite impressed by Alon’s two previous album, “Words Beyond” (2011) and “Ritual Fire” (2013). “Venture Bound” was indeed a nice surprise. Besides Alon Nechushtan (piano), the album features Donny McCaslin and John Ellis on tenor saxophones, Chris Lighcap on bass and Adam Cruz on drums. Special guests include Duane Eubanks on trumpet, Roggerio Boccato on percussion and Brahim Brigbane on oud. There’s a lot of variation in the instrumentation and in the compositions, yet  the sound is very coherent. In the liner notes, Alon explains: “Venture Bound is without a doubt my most personal album to date, a culmination of my New York years, drawing from an eclectic pallet of sounds, people, places; a continuous journey through a New York night seeking adventure; seek and you will find dive bars with basement jams, old school uptown swing clubs, while crossing the bridge to Brooklyn’s playground turns the trip into a joy ride.” An excellent album. By peter van laarhoven
the Fair Trade Trio play the world premiere of Alon Nechushtan‘s Fractured Fairy Tales along with Beethoven’s String Trio, Op. 9, No. 1. and join forces with pianist Taisiya Pushkar for Schumann’s Piano Quartet at the Dimenna Center.

ביום שישי בערב ישיק אלון נחושתן את תקליטו החדש, Venture Bound, במועדון Nu Blue שעל אווניו C באיסט וילאג’. על אף שהופיע עם המוזיקה של ההרכב כבר בכל רחבי ארצות הברית, הוא מתרגש מההופעה בה ינגן עם כמה מטובי המוזיקאים בעיר: ארי הוניג בתופים, דוני מק’קסלין בסקסופון, פרנסואה מוטאיין בבס, סאם סדיגורסקי בקלרינט וסקסופון, וכן הופעת אורח של דוויין יובנקס בחצוצרה.

הדיסק החדש יוצא בהוצאת הלייבל האירופי הנחשב “אנייה”, ואלון אומר עליו שהוא: “ללא ספק אלבומי האישי ביותר עד כה… מסע בלילה ניו-יורקי בחיפוש אחר הרפתקאה… הרפתקאה אליה לקחתי את העניין שלי ב(מוזיקה) יהודית/אשכנזית/קלייזמר מזרח אירופאית… ביחד עם גוון ספרדי”.

בניגוד להרבה מוזיקאים, אצל אלון הנגינה כמקצוע היא משהו שהגיע מאוחר יחסית בחייו. הלחנה, לעומת זאת, היא תחום בו הוא עוסק עוד מילדות, ואת היצירות הפשוטות הראשונות שלו הוא כתב בגיל שש או שבע, כך הוא מספר.

נחושתן גדל בראשון לציון, שם אמו עבדה כמורה למוזיקה בקונסרבטוריון העירוני. הוא נזכר שכאשר לא הייתה מוצאת לו שמרטף היא הייתה לוקחת אותו איתה לשיעורים. היה לה תמיד איתה פטיפון נישא עם מקלדת של אורגנית, ואלון היה נהנה לשחק ולנגן בכלי המשונה בזמן שאמו לימדה. גם אם לא הבין הרבה מתאורית המוזיקה שהיא לימדה, הוא מאמין שמשהו נספג בו. “תמיד נהנתי כשהיא סחבה אותי איתה”, הוא מספר. לעומת זאת, “פחות נהניתי כשהיא סחבה אותי ללמוד פסנתר. הייתי מזיז את המחוגים קדימה בשעון כדי שהשעה של השיעור תיגמר כבר. לא אהבתי להתאמן, פשוט לא אהבתי לנגן את אותו דבר פעמיים”.

גם אם הוא לא הבין את משמעות הדברים אז, הדחף לאלתר היה אצלו חזק בהרבה מהרצון לבצע יצירות בצורה “מושלמת”, ואז הוא עוד לא ידע האם וכיצד ימצא דרך לשלב את האלתור עם ההלחנה, שתמיד הייתה קרובה לליבו. “רק כשהתחלתי לפגוש מורים לג’אז שלימדו אלתור, התחלתי להתעניין יותר בנגינה, הבנתי שאפשר לנגן כל פעם משהו אחר. תמיד עבדתי על הלחנה, והמשכתי גם לנגן, אבל לא שקדתי לנגן יצירות כתובות, כמו למשל סונטות של מוצרט. לא עניין אותי להתעכב על כל צ’ופצ’יק”.

כנער למד נחושתן גם נגינה בגיטרה, כמו הרבה נערים אחרים. אבל שלא כמו נערים אחרים הוא היה נוסע בכל שבוע באוטובוס לירושלים כדי ללמוד הלחנה. מכיוון שגם את שירותו הצבאי עשה בירושלים, הצליח נחושתן לקבל אישור בשנת השירות האחרונה להתחיל ללמוד במחלקה לקומפוזיציה קלאסית באקדמיה למוזיקה.

יום אחד שמע שמועה שהסקסופוניסט הידוע פול ווינטר עומד להופיע בדרום הארץ, ושאולי אחינועם ניני תצטרף להופעה. בסוף היום בצבא הוא רץ לתחנה המרכזית ולקח אוטובוס לבאר שבע, ומשם בטרמפים הגיע לניצנה, שם מצא את עצמו על גבעה מרוחקת עליה התקיימה ההופעה. המסע לא היה לשווא. זו הייתה אחת החוויות המוזיקליות המשפיעות ביותר שהוא חווה בחייו: “ראיתי כמה שיתוף הפעולה בין שני אנשים מתרבויות שונות ושפות שונות יכול להיות מדהים במוזיקה. הם שילבו בין מוזיקת עולם למוזיקה תימנית, בין שירת לוויתנים, שהיום היא אולי נשמעת קיטשית אבל לפני 25 שנים הייתה חדשנית, לבין צלילי סקסופון, ואני לא הבנתי איך הם נפגשים ככה, בלי תווים כתובים מראש”.

ההפרדה, באקדמיה למוזיקה, בין המחלקה לקומפוזיציה קלאסית לבין המחלקה לג’אז – כל מחלקה בקומה שונה וללא קורסים משותפים – הפריעה לו. על כן, כשהתקבל למחלקה לאלתור עכשווי בבית הספר הנחשב, “ניו אינגלנד קונסרבטורי”, הוא ידע שזה המקום בשבילו. הוא מספר ששם אין הפרדה בין מוזיקאים של ג’אז לקלאסיים, כולם לומדים ביחד את ההיסטוריה ואת הטכניקות של כל הזרמים. לראשונה בחייו הוא התחיל לבצע יצירות ולא רק לעמוד מהצד בתור המלחין המתבונן והמאזין.

עוד שינוי שחל ביצירתו היה מושפע מראש המחלקה בה למד: הקלרניטן הנודע הנקוס נטסקי, מייסד ה”קלייזמר קונסרבטורי באנד”, שנתן לאלון השראה להתחיל להתעניין במוזיקה המגיעה ממקורות יהודיים: “בתור ישראלי בארץ לא הייתי עסוק בלחפש את הזהות שלי, רק כשהייתי קצת מחוצה לה התחלתי לחפש את מה שחסר ולשאול שאלות. ההורים שלי ממזרח אירופה, אבל בבית לא שמענו מוזיקה יהודית, רק מוזיקה קלאסית ומעט ג’אז. מעולם לא הייתי בפסטיבל הקלייזמר בצפת, ורק בבוסטון התחיל לעניין אותי ליצור מוזיקה שתשקף את הזהות היהודית שלי ללא שימוש במילים, ללא שימוש בעברית. התחלתי לשלב סולמות יהודיים ומקצבי פריילעך ביצירות שכתבתי וביצעתי”. הכיוון החדש הזה הביא לאחד ההישגים הכי מרשימים בקריירה שלו עד היום: לפני כמה שנים הוא קיבל טלפון ממייסד הז’אנר של מוזיקה יהודית אקספרימנטלית והאבא הרוחני של סצינת האוונגארד העולמית, הלא הוא ג’ון זורן. “הוא אמר לי שהוא אוהב מאוד את המוזיקה שלי והזמין אותי להקליט אלבום בלייבל הנודע שלו, שנקרא ‘צדיק'”.

בעשור האחרון, מאז שהגיע לניו-יורק, הספיק נחושתן להקליט ולהוציא שישה אלבומים בתור מבצע, ועוד מספר דומה בתור מלחין, כשאלבומיו נעים בין אוונגרד מוחלט למוזיקה בעלת צליל מובנה ומוכר יותר. ההספק שלו עצום, במיוחד בעידן של דעיכת (שלא לומר מות) הדיסק כמוצר קשיח ובר מכירה, והוא אומר: “בתרבות המוזיקה של היום המתעדכנת ומשתנה ללא הרף להוציא דיסק זה כמעט התאבדות, אבל אני דבק ועושה משהו שמעניין אותי ושאני אוהב, גם אם אין בו שום הגיון כלכלי. בכלל, שום דבר לא נשאר סטאטי בעיר, הכל זורם משינוי לשינוי. אפילו המועדונים שאני מנגן בהם. יום אחד אתה מופיע במועדון מיתולוגי כמו ‘טוניק’ או CBGB ולמחרת בולדוזר הורס אותו ובונים במקומו גורד שחקים, כי שום דבר בעיר הזו אינו נשאר לנצח והאמן לא ניצב במרכז העניינים, אלא היזם והקבלן. אבל למדתי להיות שמח ממה שאני עושה וליהנות מחיי המוזיקאי, על אף שזו בחירה לא קלה”.

Auf der Website des in Israel geborenen, nun in New York lebenden Pianisten und Komponisten Alon Nechushtan heißt es, dass seine Improvisationsmusik mit der jüdischen Musikkultur verbunden sei. Ob überhaupt und wenn ja, wie Nechushtan seine „jüdischen“ Wurzeln auch auf der mit seinem Quintett mit Donny McCaslin (Saxofon), John Ellis (Saxofon), Chris Lightcap (Bass) und Adam Cruz (Drums) eingespielten CD „Venture Bound“ verarbeitet, lässt sich musikalisch nicht festmachen. Darauf zu hören ist indes ein zeitgemäßer Modern Jazz, wie man diesen allerorten auf der Welt hören kann.

Seine Energie zieht das Quintett aus einer verwinkelten harmonischen Sprache, einem antizipierenden Zusammenspiel und einer formal und strukturell raffiniert gestalteten Improvisationskunst der fünf Musiker. Nicht mehr, aber auch nicht weniger. Martin Laurentius

Alon Nechushtan embraces everything from klezmer to classical. While the voraciously eclectic and boundlessly energetic jazz pianist/composer Alon Nechushtan boldly bends and blends all genres with his steely-fingered technique, flooding the keyboard with shimmering notes and angular ideas held together with an overarching, complex architecture, his music is accessible, even delightful. Yes, it’s challenging and perpetually quests for new expression. Yet it’s as vital as dance, as much fun as folk. Refreshingly, it’s also fluent and un-afflicted with pompous, academic rigor mortis posing as profundity. It thrives on invention, not pretension. And it can also crackle with an engaging sense of humor with its witty, Monkish, puckish rhythmic variety, use of dissonance, momentum, and a sense of play that engages listeners in the pianist’s musical journeys. A globe-trotting native of Tel Aviv, the New York-based Nechushtan displays his bright, cosmopolitan style — one that embraces everything from klezmer to classical, and mainstream to avant-garde — as he leads his trio on Sunday, January 17, at 3:00 pm at the Hartford Public Library’s free Baby Grand Jazz series. Nechushtan thrives on mercurial interplay with colleagues.He’ll be joined by double bassist Lars Ekman and drummer Colin Stranahan. Since moving to New York about ten years ago after studying at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Nechushtan has made his mark as a sideman with premier progressive musicians, and recorded acclaimed releases on his own, albums that document his all-embracing, yet highly distinctive style. Among these are his 2014 release, Venture Bound, on the German label, Enja. Nechushtan’s co-travelers on that adventurous exploration are saxophonists Donny McCaslin and John Ellis, bassist Chris Lightcap, and drummer Adam Cruz. It showcases nine original compositions well-stocked with nourishing substance seasoned with a suite-like flavor. In a life-shaping turning point, Nechushtan decided to study jazz in America. Music and instruments were at the center of Nechushtan’s life right from the beginning. His mother was a music teacher. His uncle taught violin. In high school, he got hooked on progressive rock bands like Genesis and Pink Floyd.While stationed in Jerusalem during his military service, he studied classical music, including composition. In a life-shaping turning point, Nechushtan decided to study jazz in America, enrolling at the New England Conservatory of Music. He studied contemporary improvisation with the great American composer and musician Gunther Schuller. There, he was exposed to a wide variety of influential performers and thinkers, including pianists Ran Blake, Paul Bley, Danilo Perez, and Fred Hersch, as well as Hankus Netsky. Instead of going back home to Israel after his studies, Nechushtan hung out in Boston, playing there and periodically in New York City before taking yet another giant step and moving to Manhattan, the jazz capital of the world. Since then, he’s performed with an array of jazz shakers-and-doers, including William Parker, Dave Liebman, Bob Moses, and Andrew Cyrille. Nechushtan has played around the world, from the Far East to Brazil, and of course Israel, and at many prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Blue Note. His bulging resume gives a hint of his versatility with credits ranging from the Yokohama Rejoicing Sounds festival in Japan, where his contemporary orchestral compositions were presented, to the Tel Aviv New Music Biannale, where his compositions for large ensemble were featured. Owen McNally
The wonderful thing about Alon Nechushtan is his diversity with every project. Almost every one of his albums includes different musicians, settings and ideas. From dense expansive ensemble work like Dark Forces, the ethic voyage of Talat to his traditional jazz groups—this a great sign of creativity, adventure and demur.With his new release, Venture Bound, Nechushtan seeks yet another challenge with a new set individuals which is both collaborative and well structured by the pianist/composer. “L’Avventura” is forceful and lively opener that highlights McCaslin beautifully as well shining a light on Nechushtan work at the keys.Nechushtan combines Middle Eastern themes into jazz traditionalism with “Dark Damsel,” and its opening with sublime oud work from guest musician, Brhim Brigbane. The tune gently folds into a warm midtempo late night excursion that is is delightful and captivating. “Haunted Blues” another style Nechushtan seems pull off miraculously well with vibe that feels both like New Orleans with a gritty New York tinge. Lightcaps funky basslines meld perfectly with Nechushtan’s subtle “Monk-ish” lines hidden within the grooves. Fun and funky stuff among a free flowing inventive project. While many of Alon Nechushtan’s projects are well crafted conceptual pieces, Venture Bound feels more personal and intimate for any listener (newcomer or long veteran to his sound). And its a superb album to start your experience and work backwards for a career to keeps growing leaps and bounds with each project. Excellent work. Stephen Moore.

This appears to be the sixth disc by Israeli/New York based pianist, Alon Nechsuhtan which includes his CopperHead Trio with Bob Moses on Ayler Records. Each of his previous discs has featured different personnel and each has been recorded on different labels: Tzadik, Between the Lines, Creative Sources. Mr Nechushtan always picks the cream of Downtown Scene and here he done it again: The sound of each disc is very different than each of the earlier ones. Each of the Saxists here plays on different songs, not together.

Mr. Nechushtan is a powerful, often hard swinging pianist who is at the center of each piece and plays with exuberance throughout. He often reminds me of Peter Madsen, who is the greatest under-recognized pianist still alive. His writing and arrangements fit the talents of his chosen players just right. The theme “Gratitude suite” has a warm, savory melody with lush harmonies for the horns (trumpet and tenor saxophone) . Nechushtan likes to write songs with difficult, quick moving changes which push either saxissts to navigate the rapids as they sail quickly with Alon’s piano pushing and supporting superbly throughout. One of the unexpected delights here is the playing of an oud (Brahim Brigane from the GO Organic Orchestra) to “Dark Damsel” which adds a sly middle eastern vibe. There are a few songs here which sound rather sunny yet whenever anyone solos they do a find job of sailing over the buoyant waters below. The playing here is exquisite  and consistently inspired without any of the usual turbulent tension of most discs from downtown scene. Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

When rockets are falling on your hometown and you’re half a world away, it’s hard to concentrate on music. Alon Nechushtan’s family is in Rishon LeZion, “in rocket range, just north of Rehovot,” the pianist-composer says with a wan smile. He is in New York City with his wife and child, pursuing a burgeoning career as a jazz musician. He doesn’t want to talk about this subject, other than to drily observe that “these are toxic times.”

It’s a weekday in a rather ordinary office building near Penn Station, but when you get upstairs you suddenly become aware that this building, so much like the dozens of others on the block, actually houses a beehive of rehearsal studios for Broadway shows and major dance companies. It’s the latter that brings Nechushtan here, working a day job (literally) as a pianist for workshops of the Joffrey Ballet. He chuckles and explains, “I’m a pianist and a pianist has to make a living somehow.”

In his late 30s, Nechushtan is slender, almost skinny, with a beard beginning to go gray, dark red hair and glasses. He has a wry, easy smile and an ironic manner, which somehow goes well with his new CD, “Venture Bound” (Enja). He will be performing music from the album on July 25. A collection of nine original tunes, the album is a splendid showcase for the Israeli’s slippery, slithering melodic lines, and the sparkling, clever playing of tenor saxophonists Donny McCaslin and John Ellis, among others.

“These people can do the inside of that style so well, then they can step back and make it their own thing,” he explains. “I had to be looking at my peers constantly.” He must have an excellent set of eyes to go along with his gifted ears, because John Zorn invited him to do an album of Jewish themes for Tzadik. “I wanted to do a concept album, to tell a story,” he says. “There are a lot of modes, Jewish modes like the freygish and Ahavah Rabbah, on the album. We wanted to keep the danceability that you have in klezmer.” The album, “The Growl,” released in 2007, was the culmination of hundreds of gigs the pianist played with Marc Mommaas (saxophones), Matt Shulman (trumpet), Matt Pavolka (bass) and Jordan Perlson (drums).

Nechushtan still likes the album but admits that by the time it was released he was ready to move on to the next thing. “I wanted to do something a little broader,” he says. “I mean, what if I wanted to play something bluesy or even Israeli?” He makes little distinction between his jazz recordings and compositions and his work with prominent choreographers like Paul Taylor and Mark Morris or his classical compositions.

“It’s basically me as a juggler,” Nechushtan says. “Look, my take on jazz playing is different — I’m not born in this country, I grew up in a very different place, so I’ve been learning a style and trying to make it my own. I’m just trying to chisel something, like any craftsman. The process can take a minute or it can take a year. But I’m doing the same work regardless of genre.” Alon Nechushtan will be performing at Nublu (62 Ave. C, between Fourth and Fifth streets) Friday, July 25 at 10 p.m. For information go to www.nublu.net. George Robinson .

He refined his sound in this context, drawing on his diverse background of growing up in Israel listening to jazz and progressive rock. On Sept. 29, Nechushtan will premiere a new concert program called “Strayhorn Revisited: A Middle Eastern Odyssey of Rhythm, Harmony and Groove,” which pays tribute to Billy Strayhorn, the longtime collaborator and arranger for Duke Ellington who would have turned 100 this November. The concert, at An die Musik Live! on North Charles St., includes Nechushtan’s own Middle East-inspired “Soulful Fire” alongside Strayhorn and Ellington pieces, including selections from “Far East Suite,” which was inspired by a tour Ellington and his band embarked on in 1963 as goodwill ambassadors on behalf of the U.S. State Department that took them to Lebanon, Jordan, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka and Iraq, among other countries.

“I’m trying to unearth pieces that were rarely heard, tunes that I thought would be interesting for this program,” Nechushtan said. He and his band, comprised of Baltimore- and New York-based musicians, will also perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 1. Nechushtan grew up surrounded by music and instruments, with his mother being a music teacher and his uncle a violin teacher. He got serious about his playing once he was “left alone” from formal training, he said. In high school, progressive rock bands such as Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes piqued his interests, especially the albums that featured longer, more orchestrated pieces.

“I was drawn to what we call the ‘one-side LP,’ which is 23 or so minutes of music unstopped,” he said, noting Pink Floyd albums like “Atom Heart Mother,” “Animals” and “Meddle.” “These were almost symphonic forms of music.” But as he learned the keyboard parts from these bands, he found that they had foundations in jazz, and to truly understand the music he was learning, he too would need that foundation. While stationed in Jerusalem during his military service, Nechushtan studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, where he learned classical music forms and composing. As he looked to continue his studies, he decided to head to America to learn about jazz in its birthplace.

He went to the New England Conservatory of Music where he studied contemporary improvisation with Gunther Schuller, an accomplished composer and musician who got his start in jazz as a horn player with Miles Davis and coined the term “third stream,” which described music that combined classical and jazz music. “What we were doing there was just really trying to bridge the gap and create a music that was really organic,” Nechushtan said. Although he originally planned to head back to Israel, Nechushtan said he got “side-tracked” and stayed in Boston for a while, but then began traveling to New York to play and moved there about a decade ago. The scene is not quite as rich as it was when he first got to the Big Apple, Nechushtan said, as the struggles of the music industry have made their way to the clubs, which are fewer in number than 10 years ago.

“I think a decade ago was the beginning of the notion that ‘okay, maybe we could sell the club and open a [high-riser],” he said. For musicians still looking to expand their audiences and horizons, touring is the way to go. Nechushtan’s recent trips include Washington, D.C., Brazil, Shanghai and the Philippines. In addition to playing for new audiences, he said he’s picking up different musical flavors along the way as different places blend jazz with their own homegrown genres, such as samba in Brazil. Every time Nechushtan goes back to Israel, as he did recently, he notices the music scene getting much stronger as more musicians who have traveled to the United States to study at places such as the Berklee School of Music or Nechushtan’s alma mater, the New England Conservatory of Music,
return home.

“I think what Israel is becoming is a little bit of a mecca of music at least in the area in the Middle East. Everyone is super educated and the musicianship is really high,” he said. “You almost feel like if you close your eyes, you’re playing at a club in Manhattan.” As for Nechushtan’s plans, he may record and perform “Strayhorn Revisited” beyond these two shows if it strikes a chord with audience members. And there are always more venues to play and countries to tour. “I just hope I’m going to have the energy to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “Meet new people, go to new places, play new clubs.” Alon Nechushtan performs “Strayhorn Revisited” at An die Musik Live! on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $23 at the door and $10 for full-time students with ID. Visit  andiemusiklive.com. By Michael Jankovitz

The history of jazz is rife with junctures where the music received an infusion of creative innovation from the far-flung provinces: Louis Armstrong turned Chicago on its ear in the 1920s; the Count Basie Orchestra and Charlie Parker hit New York in 1936 and 1941, respectively; and Ornette Coleman left Los Angeles to “change the century” at New York’s Five Spot in 1959.

In the last decade, an influx of Israeli musicians has been invigorating New York City and the larger American jazz sphere. They include saxophonists Eli Degibri, Danny Zamir and Ori Kaplan; violinist Miri Ben-Ari; guitarist Roni Ben-Hur; bassist Omer Avital; sibling reed players Anat and Yuval Cohen; their brother, trumpeter Avishai; and bassist Avishai Cohen (no relation). Are you getting all this down? Add the name of pianist and composer Alon Nechushtan to that list. The 39-year-old Tel Aviv native has released a half-dozen beautifully vital recordings since he immigrated to New York a decade ago.

The newest album, “Venture Bound,” is part of the push that brings him to the West Coast for his first visit. Nechushtan’s quartet will be on display for three nights: July 10 at the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles, July 11 at Vitello’s in Studio City and July 12 at Curve Straight Space in Los Angeles.His recordings usually feature small band configurations, http://www.jewishjournal.com/culture/article/alon_nechushtan_jazz_music_with_israeli_roots and that can be a bit misleading. Nechushtan is a composer who has equal parts classical music and jazz under his fingers, and he’s written a fair amount of music for orchestras.

The elements that roil around in Nechushtan’s musical stew account for much of its savory appeal. Rollicking jazz that can dance as easily as it can offer meditative interludes collides with klezmer’s minor-scale abandon or a sonata-like piano. Gypsy strains and Middle Eastern modes foment in the same pot. The offset metric complexity of “The Traveler” (from the 2011 “Words Beyond” album) further loosens Thelonious Monk’s treatise on rhythmic displacement, “Evidence.” Or does it nod to Bartok’s folksy modernism as well? Nechushtan’s studies at the New England Conservatory of Music brought him into contact with strong musical presences: pianists Ran Blake, Paul Bley, Danilo Perez and Fred Hersch. Hankus Netsky, leader of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, inveighed upon Nechushtan to seriously address klezmer. Pausing before the start of his current tour, Nechushtan took time to speak by phone from Manhattan about his music.

“I owe Hankus a lot,” Nechushtan said. “He got me to play in klezmer ensembles; I didn’t know that music before that because we didn’t hear it much in Israel.” “Ran Blake is a real theoretician,” he continued. “He’s thought a lot about improvisational piano. Paul Bley is almost shockingly nonacademic, but we had some great talks.Danilo exposed me to new rhythms and options of composing in the moment. And,” he added with enthusiasm, “I love his sense of humor! Humor is very important: If music is too self-important, it loses something for me. “Jewish music has humor and sadness at the same time,” Nechushtan clarified. The son of an Uzbek mother and a Hungarian father, Nechshtan heard a lot of the Soviet postmodern composers, and he even speaks a little Russian. Igor Stravinsky’s music is a continuing source of enjoyment as well. Nechushtan holds that in contemporary music, “Everything is plural in a way. It definitely is a global village.” So, is Nechushtan a composer who plays piano, or a pianist who composes? He paused before answering. “That’s a heavy question,” he conceded. “I started as a composer before I went onstage. Before that, I gave my music to other performers; I had written some classical guitar pieces and chamber works before playing my music publicly. If I can’t be up there, that’s fine with me; a lot of my music is best understood in performance. “I don’t have to be inside the music,” he continues. “

In fact, it’s an important part of the process for me to see how it’s interpreted by conductors or big bands. It’s good to step outside yourself to see how other people hear your music.” Nechushtan said the concept of dance is important to his music. “I like the joy and the humor of klezmer, which is balanced by the minor-scale sadness. Bartok said if there’s no motion, then there’s no emotion. The joy in the music is to move you to dance — it’s very hard to stay still when you’re listening to a horah!” By Kirk Silsbee

One is tempted to call pianist/composer Alon Nechushtan a citizen of the world.  Born in Israel, he moved to the United States in 2003 but has since toured to Japan, South America, Europe and back to Israel.  With the release of “Venture Bound” (ENJA), he has now issued 5 CDs, each one distinct from the others.  This new release features the excellent rhythm section of Chris Lightcap (bass) and Adam Cruz (drums!) supplying the grooves for John Ellis (tenor  or soprano saxophone on 5 of the 9 tracks), Donny McCaslin (tenor or soprano sax on the other 4), Duane Eubanks (trumpet of 2 of the tracks with McCaslin), Roggerio Boccato (percussion on 1 cut) and the oud of Brahim Brigbane on 1 cut.

This music is quite delightful, with tracks such as “Pome (Grenade)” and “Dark Damsel” incorporating Middle Eastern themes in the melodies.  The former is a vehicle for a splendid solo from Ellis and vigorous piano chords a la McCoy Tyner from the leader (the track would not sound out of place on Tyner’s “Sahara” recording.) Brigbane’s oud weaves around the whirling piano lines at the outset of “...Damsel” and the 2 instrumentalists team up with McCaslin’s tenor for the lively theme. “F.A.Q” contains lovely soprano work from McCaslin plus a strong melodic solo from Lightcap.  Ellis turns to his soprano sax to lead the group through the handsome melody of “Snow-Flow“, a piece with gospel-tinged chords from Nechushtan who also delivers a pleasing solo.

The opening unaccompanied piano lines of “The Gratitude Suite” have the feel of a Bruce Hornsby composition while the melody is firmly planted in the composer’s homeland.  Eubanks’ solo is tinged with emotion while Boccato and Cruz percolate below and Lightcap offers smart counterpoint.  The tenor solo (McCaslin) is a tour de force leading to a heightened intensity and a soulful piano spot.  It’s tough not to be floored by the powerful opening track, “L’Avventura“, with its dynamic piano chords and solo plus the delicious drive of the bass and drums.  Cruz is a powerhouse throughout, matching his intensity with that of the pianist – they really push each other on every song.  The short drum solo that opens the final track, “Serpentrails“, literally explodes out of the speakers; the main melody is influenced by Monk and Ellis’s bluesy solo has more than a touch of Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Rouse.  Listen to how Cruz dances below the solo while Lightcap’s bass keeps the beat bouncing.

Venture Bound” is a love letter to melody and rhythms, especially themes that composer Alon Nechushtan has heard all his life and to the heartbeat of contemporary jazz that has fueled most of his explorations.  His partners in this “Venture” dig right into this material and strike gold in every vein.  Enjoy the journey!  By Richard Kamins

Alon Nechushtan has covered some ground to get where he is today. The 30something jazz pianist will be here next week to perform at Avram in Jerusalem (August 18) and the Shablul Club in Tel Aviv (August 19), bringing a hefty musical-cultural arsenal with him.

 Jerusalem-born Nechushtan has been living in the US for around a decade and, by all accounts, appears to have made the most of his time there. Following sage advice from fellow Jerusalem-born pianist Yitzhak Yedid, Nechushtan enrolled at the prestigious New England Conservatory in Boston and studied with such masters as pianists Ran Blake and Paul Bley, who had also tutored Yedid.
 Opting for NEC was something of a seismic career and artistic shift for Nechushtan. “I had no idea what contemporary improvisation was before I went to NEC,” says Nechushtan. “When I was at the academy, all I knew about [outside pure classical music] was third stream.” The latter is a term coined by composer Gunther Schuller in the late 1950s, which relates to a fusion of classical music and jazz.
 “I took a klezmer course, too,” he says. “That definitely broadened my horizons. Before that, I thought it was Eastern European music played at weddings. I never thought I could seriously study klezmer repertoire.” While at the Boston school, Nechushtan got some hands-on experience of the genre and played in the New England Conservatory Klezmer Band.”That is one of the most acclaimed klezmer ensembles in the world, alongside the Klezmatics,” he notes.
World-famous Jewish New Yorker trumpeter Frank London, a member of the Klezmatics, will present a workshop at the annual Klezmer Festival, which will take place in Safed from August 18 to 20, and will also perform at the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival early next month.
 The breadth of Nechushtan’s stylistic hinterland certainly comes across in his latest release, Venture Bound, which came out a couple of months ago. The nine self-penned tracks cover expansive sonic and dynamic ground. In “Dark Damsel,” the pianist delves deep into Middle Eastern territory, enlisting the help of Moroccan-born oud player Brahim Bigbane. And there are several quotes from “Morenica,” an old Ladino song best known for the versions by Esther Ofarim, Ofra Haza and Habreira Hativit.
The “Haunted Blues” cut on Venture Bound is just that, and the melody is steeped with heady blues textures and rhythms, with the odd rock-inclined departure. The closing number of the album, “Serpentrails,” references one of Nechushtan’s primary sources of inspiration – iconic bebop pioneer pianist Thelonious Monk. Nechushtan has clearly ventured far and wide since his days at the academy in Jerusalem.
“When I told people there that I wanted to do a master’s degree in improvised music, there were quite a few raised eyebrows,” he recounts. “Most of the people there thought that if you started studying in a particular direction, you should complete it.” Mind you, that doesn’t mean that the pianist has forsaken his musical roots. “I continue to write classical music and orchestral works,” he says, “but I also incorporate jazz and improvised sections. It feels right to delve into different areas, and it feels more complete.” Nechushtan says it is very much a two-way street and that he plies his offerings across all kinds of domains. “I include improvised passages in my classical works and, of course, there are many written parts in jazz works. I am considering releasing an album in the near future with [trumpeter] Roy Campbell and [bassist] William Parker. ” The pianist says that he increasingly goes with the flow.
 “There is no particular direction that is the right one to follow. If something feels right for me – and that can be just a matter of intuition – I will go for it. I have around four hours of music I played with Roy Campbell and William Parker, and Daniel Carter who plays on practically every wind instrument in existence. Nothing of the music was written down. It is improvisation from beginning to end, and there is lots of interesting stuff in there. I’ll probably release it as a double album,” he says. Should be worth the wait – There are out-and-out avant-garde artists whose work is generally considered to be too challenging for people who prefer to get their musical kicks from the commercial and mainstream areas of entertainment. But Nechushtan swings – frequently literally, in a musical sense – all ways.

“I write and play very communicative music and also non communicative music and written music and music without a written score,” he notes. “My upbringing in classical music and jazz enables me to enjoy the best of all worlds.”Venture Bound represents a degree of closure and summation for Nechushtan. “The CD is a sort of homage to the almost 10 years I have spent in New York, so the album is a salute to pianists whom I have heard in New York and pianists and composers that have influenced me,” he explains. “One of them is [late French pianist Michel] Petrucciani, and there’s Thelonious Monk as well, whom I strongly reference on the album. I have lots of influences, including Israeli and Jewish influences. It all flows through me and infuses my music.” For more information 077- 445-0701 and www.avrambar.co.il (Jerusalem); (03) 546-1891 and www.shabluljazz.com (Tel Aviv). Barry Davis. 



Upon winning last year’s Independent Music Award for best jazz album, Israeli-born pianist Alon Nechushtan cited as his influences J. S. Bach, Duke Ellington and Charlie Chaplin. To these three, listeners of Nechushtan’s latest release, “Ritual Fire” could add another person: the experimental American painter Jackson Pollock, whose term “action suite” Nechushtan borrows to explain the workings of the new album. The album is largely free-form, with melodic elements that erupt into a larger conceptual whole.

The record’s highlight is the special appearance by clarinetist Harold Rubin— a legendary figure of the Israeli art scene. Now in his 80s, Rubin is also known for his work as a painter, poet and architect. A native of Johannesburg, he developed his jazz chops by collaborating with African musicians. In the 1960s, the South African government threatened Rubin with charges of blasphemy when he painted a subversive depiction of Jesus Christ. Rubin then escaped to Israel.

Nechushtan, born and educated in Israel, is part of the mass of young Israeli musicians living and working on the East Coast of the United States. It is no wonder that so much of the album feels like a conversation between the him and Rubin — each emblematic of his generation — closely listening and responding to each other’s ideas, supported by a tight rhythm section.

The clarinet is inherently a whimsical-sounding instrument, and Rubin pushes the whimsy to its flailing borders. As he goes into his melodic mode, he seems to steer the sound toward tender, lyrical fragility. Often, though, he explodes with a series of melancholy squeals and squawks, sounding much like some migratory bird struggling to explain itself. The trope of migration is key to both Rubin and Nechushtan. The Chekhovian overtones come to the fore in “Across the Ocean Like a Seagull,” A composition in which Nechushtan’s extensive solo is introspective, unraveled and determined — a flight of the sound that seems to have no prospect of a permanent landing. -Jake Marmer

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.
Album of the week: Roscoe Mitchell – Not Yet (2013), Alon Nechushtan – Tribal Fire (2013), Secret Keeper (Stephan Crump / Mary Halvorson) – Super 8 (2013). Gunnelpumpers – Montana Fix (2013)

Two years ago, Alon Nechustran surprised us with “Words Beyond”, a beautiful modern jazz album. And now there’s “Ritual Fire”, an action suite in 10 parts, as it says on the album. The Between The Lines record label explains: “Jackson Pollock made “Action Painting” well known a while back, and he became one of the most important painters of the 20th century. This art form considers improvisation to be a pivotal element in painting. Color is often not applied with a brush, but drop by drop, for example, sometimes applied to the canvas directly from the can. Simple materials and techniques result in amazing results. In spite of this, it is not at all dilettantism, but instead is done based on comprehensive knowledge of all set structures and techniques. But they are just not satisfied with set structures. “Action Suite” by the pianist Alon Nechushtan pursues similar considerations. Based on virtuoso mastery of musical instrumentation and with a clear idea of what music pieces created in free improvisation should express, a number of precious pieces are created – and these grow together into an overall work of art. Free improvisation in this sense is the opposite of lack of prerequisites. To the contrary: It only works if each single member of the band contributes all of his expertise, experience and skills into a mutual work networked internally. That is what accounts for the extraordinary fascination of “Ritual Fire”: Inner concordance of the musicians that has become rare that makes the free improvisation seem to listeners as if it were composed.” In the liner notes, Kurt Gottschalk quotes Alon Nechushtan saying “Though each track was mostly freely improvised with very little preparation, there was a definite, preconception for the overall organization of the session and controlling the order of these building blocks I was using to shape and form the full suite as it appears on the CD”. The result, “Ritual Fire”, is very impressive. All four musicians sound as if they have been playing togher for years. Alon Nechushtan on piano, Ken Filiano on bass, Bob Meyer on drums, and (the eighty years old) Harold Rubin on clarinet. Every fan of contemporary, modern, improvised jazz should hear this.

When Alon Nechushtan decided to make a new album, entitled Ritual Fire, he asked South-African born clarinet player Harold Rubin, now living in Israel, to participate.  I was very excited to hear that Harold Rubin was in town, Alon told in an article: “The initial starting point of “Ritual Fire“: I have known Harold for over 15 years from my homeland and considered him as a very unique voice in the contemporary world of improvised music and as a “one of a kind” clarinetist and founding members of free improvisation in Israel. This legendary 81 years old clarinet player is an icon.  Jazz journalist Kurt Gottschalk wonders in its liner notes, how the upcoming generation, which raises with YouTube and Spotify, … creating  their own music by duplicate, manipulate, splice and rearrange any of that music any way they choose, will listen to music when they are grown ups ….. It’s a dizzyingly exciting prospect, Kurt says, to realize, listening to clarinet player Harold Rubon, in his 80s now, that, whatever music these grown ups will inspire, it seems that such a octogenarian like Harold Rubin has ro remind you that nothing under the sun is altogether new … The tools might be different but the language of artistic expression remains the same. 

Alon Nechushtan was born in Israel and learned to play the piano, followed private studies under Slava Ganeli  and studied Classical Composition in Jeruzalem. In 2000 he moved to the US where he studied Jazz and Big Band at the well known Boston New England Conservatory as a student of the great band leader, composer, arranger and trombone player, Bob Brookmeyer. He also studied jazz piano with great names like Fred Hersch, one of my favorite jazz pianists. Early 2003 he moved to New York where he joined hundreds of gigs in the New York Jazz scene. He founded his own quintet TALAT in 2002 which recorded and played all around the world at festivals in Canada, Israel and Europe. This group plays a mix of all kind of musical styles from klezmer up to Jazz and funk with North African modes and Middle Eastern rhythms.  On Ritual Fire he invited for his trio Ken Filiano, one of the most innovative and virtuoso musicians in the field, the info reads …. He provides a warm bed for the extemporaneous explorations …. ( Kurt Gottschalk). Ken can be heard in hundreds of album as a bass player, since his debut in  the 1980s with bands like Vinny Golia  and the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra (1990s). Bob Meyer is also a veteran, a drummer, who played with Bert Wilson in the 1980s and 1990s and was invited to play in the rhythm sections of Joe lovano, Ed Schuller, Rick Margita and John Abercrombie, to list some names.

Harold Rubin, special guest on this album, is the nestor of this ensemble. Born in Johannesburg (South Africa) he became inspired by the great swing orchestras of Duke Ellington and Count Basie, the then “modern experimental sounds” of Eric Dolphy and Tony Scott …..  In 1963 he immigrated to Israel, where he became a well known architect, painter. He became fascinated by the music of free improvsers like Cecil Taylor and John Carter and debuted in the late 1980s in bands like the Tel-Aviv Connection and with his own groups (like Zaviot). After he retired he loves to play, especially with the younger generation of Israelian jazz musicians.

Ritual Fire is based on an “Action Suite’ in ten parts“, as Alon labeled it – ten spontanious creations … all mostly freely improvised with very little preparations, Alon explains ….
The album Ritual Fire will be released in Europe soon and can be ordered at  Between the Lines and other online distributors. -By Hans Koert


JAZZTHETIK (Translated from German)
The sensual artistic process by which the artists of Action Painting make the colors flow into each other to achieve contrasts and textures, seems to have served as an irresistible inspiration for the Jewish pianist Alon Nechushtan. When the pianist, who was born in 1974 near Tel Aviv, expanded his band to include the clarinetist Harold Rubin, the resulting interaction made for a liberated flow of (musical?) ideas. But that does not mean arbitrariness. Instead, we have a shared vision moving forward.

The playing of Alon Nechushtan along with Ken Filano on bass, Bob Meyer on drums/percussion and the south African Harold Rubin on clarinet make for a chemistry, expressed in the sounds, structures and ideas going back and forth that result in melodic expression. Noteworthy is the free, often melancholic lyrical expression of the clarinetist Harold Rubin. Rubin, born in South Africa in 1932, is the oldest of the group. Rubin drew on Eric Dolphy and Count Basie and was later inspired by Cecil Taylor and John Carter.

The bandleader Alon Nechustan is more than forty years younger and represents the contemporary musical avant-grade. The other collaborators range in between agewise. This variety gives Ritual Fire tremendous vitality, produces rousing emotion and finally warmth. Enchantingly, almost plaintively, the clarinet constantly emits a wealth of melancholy, and develops a lyrical motive /motif. It is a voice that lifts itself. Plucked bass tones respond, and the pianist integrates all of this in his own, often extroverted, life-giving (literally, giving birth) playing.

The flow of the resulting music gives the impression often of a complex Free-Jazz eruption but is nevertheless a lyrical freedom one can grasp, carried along by that emotion generated by the interaction of younger musicians with the older pioneers.
Stefan Pieper – Jazzthetik

Alon Nechushtan was born in Rishon le Zion (near Tel Aviv) in 1974. He already learned to play the piano when he was six years old, and he began to compose for chamber music ensembles when he was 10. Private studies under Slava Ganelin as well as listening to the current music of his youth from Genesis to Pink Floyd stirred his awaking interest for jazz pianists – and of course composition studies from Debussy to Shostakovich. He also played in jazz combos during his classical composition studies in Jerusalem. After he received his Master’s degree, he moved to the USA for good in 2003, first to Boston (on the advice of Between the Lines artist Yitzhak Yedid) where he continued his studies under Ran Blake, Paul Bley, Fred Hersch and others. Bob Brookmeyer was also one of his mentors, and he conducted numerous premiers of Nechushtan’s compositions. He moved to New York in 2003, and his first recordings were soon released, among others on John Zorn’s label Tzadik. Since then he has worked with many musicians such as Marty Ehrlich, Frank London, Ned Rothenberg, Eliott Sharp, Mark Dresser and many others.
Alon Nechushtan is presenting a very special guest on “Ritual Fire”: Harold Rubin born in South Africa in 1932. He studied classical clarinet, but was already attracted to jazz in his youth, first to the music of Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and later to Erik Dolphy and Tony Scott. His band celebrated his first successes and played at the first Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, among other places. He emigrated to Israel in 1963 due to the Apartheid system. He worked there successfully in his profession as architect and painter and was involved in the peace movement, so that he had little time for playing the clarinet. However, he got involved again at the end of the 70s, influenced by the free jazz of Cecil Taylor and John Carter, with his own bands (“Zaviot Quartet”) and on tours through Europe and the USA (among others, with Jim Pepper and Christoph Spendel). Rubin has closely linked his life’s personal, social and music freedom.
Bob Meyer (born in 1945) is one of America’ drummers most in demand by musicians such as Joe Lovano and Ed Schuller to Rick Margitza and John Abercrombie, with whom he currently plays in a quartet (with Adam Kolker and Johannes Weidenmuller). His timing and his sensitiveness provide “Ritual Fire” with a stable foundation. Ken Filiano on bass (born in 1952) is currently one of the most innovative and virtuoso musicians in his field. His collaboration is highly esteemed by numerous co-musicians (Bobby Bradford, John Carter, Frank London, Giora Feidman, etc.). His openness for new experiences seems unlimited, and he also provides brilliant moments time and time again in Alon Nechushtan’s trio.

This is a strikingly beautiful album by Israeli (living in NY) pianist / composer Alon Nechushtan with a quartet which also includes the bassist Ken Filiano, drummer Bob Meyer and the legendary Israeli clarinetist Harold Rubin. The quartet performs ten pieces that are mostly freely improvised, based on compositional guidelines by Nechushtan, which together constitute an “action” suite, a term describing an artistic on-the-fly creation. This is Nechushtan´s fourth consecutive exceptional album in a span of just a few years, firmly establishing him as a major player of the contemporary Jazz / Improvised Music scene.

Although released under Nechushtan´s name, the album is primarily a remarkable tribute to the exceptional abilities of Rubin, who was almost eighty years old when this music was recorded. Although still relatively little acknowledged on the international music scene, Rubin is a force of Nature, with absolutely no competition anywhere in the world. His playing, or rather creation of sounds, is completely unique and transcends the Jazz tradition by light-years. Wonderfully he is getting better with time and the advanced age seems to bless him with ageless vitality and musical astuteness. Nechushtan is to be congratulated for recognizing Rubin´s contribution and keeping the rhythm section relatively in the background, mostly supporting Rubin´s soloing. But of course the rhythm section plays all along and they play wonderfully. These are all experienced and very talented players, who all have recognized recorded legacies to their names, and therefore don´t need to prove anything by taking more of the personal space that the opportunity called for. Again they all deserve to be praised for their attitude. The music is typically spontaneous and limitless, creating an aesthetic aura of elegance, beauty and artistic “fire”, which should win over every open-minded listener. This is true “high art”, which should be celebrated and revered, as it is rare and fragile.

Ce disque contient “An action suite in 10 parts”, une traduction musicale de l’Action Painting mis en pratique par le peintre Jackson Pollock. Le pianiste Alon Nechushtan cherche donc à développer une approche toujours spontanée mais réfléchie de l’improvisation collective pour créer des formes, des couleurs et des structures nouvelles… Tout cela n’est pas franchement neuf et nous renvoie à des démarches déjà développées à l’époque du free-jazz et des courants des musiques créatives qui ont cherché à “structurer l’aléatoire”. Ces musiciens sont fort habiles et tout à fait convaincus par leur démarche. La musique qui en découle ne manque pas de qualités cependant. Du free revival ?Alon Nechushtan : piano et compositions / Ken Filiano : contrebasse / Bob Meyer : batterie /+/ Harold Rubin : clarinette. “An action suite in 10 parts” : 01. Hover / 02. Ritual Fire / 03. Psalmonody / 04. Profusion / 05. Ruah Kadim (Eastern Wind) / 06. Free Falling / 07. Aureoles / 08. Accross The Ocean Like A Seagull / 09. Hamsin (Heat Wave) / 10. Soliloqui // Enregistré à New-York le 20 septembre 2011.

La clarinette ouvre et referme le bal de ce Ritual Fire. Ici, comment ne pas penser à Jimmy Giuffre quand s’invitent les dissonances acides chères au clarinettiste texan ? Musicien discret, remarqué chez Jean-Claude JonesHarold Rubin est un personnage singulier de la jazzosphère. Né en 1932 à Johannesburg, l’Afrique du Sud le condamna pour blasphème. Il s’installa alors à Tel-Aviv, devint architecte, exposa ses dessins et peintures dans les plus grandes galeries puis, après une vingtaine d’années d’abstinence, renoua avec le jazz en 1979. Sa clarinette est une clarinette des recoins. C’est une clarinette sans principe autre que celui de la marge. Son souffle s’étreint, s’étrangle, refuse modes et certitudes, s’ouvre à la microtonalité.
On en oublierait presque Alon NechushtanKen Filiano et Bob Meyer. Se réclamant de l’Action Painting de Pollock (la chose est discutable), le pianiste retrouve les free forms de Jimmy Giuffre. Il y a dans ce jazz (ou plutôt dans ce free jazz) des coulées piquantes, des tensions fulgurantes. Et, surtout, une démarche (ne rien cloisonner,  inviter l’aléatoire) qui ne peut que nous ravir. BY Luc Bouquet © Le son du grisli

Nato in Israele nel 1974 e dal 2003 negli USA, il pianista Alon Nechushtan vanta tra i propri mentori anche Paul Bley e Bob Brookmeyer, i quali evidentemente gli hanno trasmesso quelle tracce del magistero di Jimmy Giuffre che caratterizzano questo eccellente lavoro d’improvvisazione—idealmente ispirato alla creatività pittorica istantanea di Jackson Pollock—e che vengono a più riprese richiamate sia nelle forme musicali, sia nei titoli (“Psalmonody,” “Free Falling”).

Nechushtan è autore delle composizioni, in realtà mere tracce per un’interazione serrata e libera nella quale trovano spazio tutti i componenti del quartetto di cui è leader. E se il contrabbassista Ken Filiano mostra grande e duttile creatività, passando con naturalezza dall’arco al pizzicato, e dialoga intensamente per tutta la durata del disco tanto con il pianista, quanto con il clarinetto di Harold Rubin, quest’ultimo è, con Nechushtan, il vero protagonista del lavoro.

Ormai più che ottantenne, originario del Sudafrica ma riparato in Israele nel 1963 per fuggire all’apartheid, Rubin—dopo una giovinezza da musicista—ha dedicato la sua vita perlopiù all’architettura e alla pittura, ma—a giudicare dagli esiti testimoniati su questa registrazione—senza dimenticare né tecnica, né ispirazione. La sua interpretazione al clarinetto è infatti davvero superba: timbro netto e caldo, composta e coerente fantasia improvvisativa, costruzione originale e comunicativa delle frasi. Tutte cose che ricordano in modo talora impressionante proprio Giuffre, forse anche grazie al contesto preparato da Nechushtan, e che vengono esposte in una particolare vetrina nell’ultima traccia, “Soliloqui,” nella quale il clarinettista agisce in solitudine.CD pertanto di grande interesse, omaggio a una tradizione—quella del “free cameristico”—di cui si tende a dimenticare troppo l’importanza e che merita ascoltare con attenzione, con indubbia soddisfazione. By Nerri Pollastri


Composer Alon Nechushtan emerges as one of the most remarkable musicians of the new generation. The list of players on the album reads like who’s who in the contemporary Free Jazz / experimental Scene including Mark Dresser (Double Bass) , Ned Rothenberg (Bass Clarinet) , Eliott Sharp (Electric Guitar) and many other outstanding musicians, the music consists of Electronic ambient layers that serves as basis for the jazz musicians to paint their improvisations on top , heavilly atmospheric, magical and enthralling pulling the listener deeper and deeper into this strangely beautiful world of sound. Great Stuff ! By Adam Baruch,

Monsieur Délire
In a score that leaves a lot of room to improvisation, though still a well-defined framework. An intense record. I will have to revisit in a more focused state of mind, because there’s a lot of depth to this material. By François Couture

Chain DLK
sound like one of the most audible filler mixed with other elements in this black pudding sliced in ten parts, being the other elements some tricks taken from experimental electronics, improvisational, ambient, ritual and concrete music and even tribalism – the moments where this element sounds clearer such as in the fourth or sixth track are my favorite ones of the whole recording -. Someone could argue that such an ensemble could outshine individual skills, but I’m pretty sure that each of 11 musicians with their rich sonic stores, including two electric guitars, one double bass, one trombone, one alto saxophone, a baritone one, one cello, one tuba, one bass clarinet, one bass flute, one trumpet, involved in this obscure work will be satisfied of the highly visionary opalescence their choral performance aimed to highline a property of music, more than a concept, managed to reach thanks to Alon Nechushtan direction as the listeners will easily acknowledge. By Vito Camarretta

Le Son du Grisli
Dark Forces deploying ambiguous morphologies, as electronics, evoking games successive latency, environmental sounds – sea the wind, a bird – a fantastic bestiary, while a jungle, as strange process of involution and evolution, disfigurement and refiguration. By Samuel Lequette

The New York City Jazz Record
Dark Forces is an electro-acoustic mix by composer Alon Nechushtan with a cast of downtown allstars, including Swell, Elliott Sharp and Briggan Krauss. It sounds like the traffic of heavenly bodies, or spacecraft – but spacecraft with teak and mahogany details. The composition works like fractals, with each instrumentalist recapitulating the spacey theme in their own parts, which are also remarkable for their restraint and episodes of silence. By Gordon Marshall

Criticas Novas
The following is a true pearl: “Dark Forces”, Alon Nechushtan who is credited as the ‘sound designer’, but one can assume that all the electronic part of the album is his responsibility, although it is not indicated. The ensemble that plays his music is a list of “Who’s Who” of creative jazz and free improvisation of today, so if you can conclude that the scores that were conceived opening large enough to matter to these instrumentalists. What is here is a chamber music alien, seeming to come from a distant place and wrapped in mist. In short, a CD absolutely fascinating. By Rui Eduardo Paes

Jazz Wrap
Nechushtan is becoming a important name on the scene. I’ve discussed his early 2011 album, Words Beyond, with the latter year end release of Dark Forces, Nechushtan has made wider leap forward in the avant garde community.Dark Forces is cerebral–and yes, dark. You might even call it, “a headphone record.” Originally written and performed in live in 2006 (only now finally put on record), is densely packed with layers of slightly audible tones. This is a large ensemble spread over ten movements. And while  each member doesn’t really standout (probably by Nechushtan’s design), the overall sum of the parts is intense and very rewarding.Dark Forces feels like it could easily be a work for installations or an experimental dance company. But as a stand alone piece, Dark Forces is a deceptively effective work from a composer who seems to be a great more adventurous with each record. Well worth seeking out. By Stephan Moore

Downtown Music Gallery 
Mr. Nechushtan has put together an impressive all-star cast of eleven of Downtown’s best musicians, recorded over 7 years. When I looked at the line-up I was just as amazed as you however the music was something else entirely. The pieces are not named and they often deal with strange textures and atmospheric sounds. It doesn’t sound as if there were any written music here although it does sound as if the music was carefully arranged and/or focused. Many of the sounds and spaces are filled with suspense and restrained tension. The Spanish label Creative Sources has been around for nearly a decade, has close to 200 releases and most often deals with lower case improv. Although this disc features some ten musicians, it sounds as if there are no more than 3 or 4 players on each track. The overall mysterious and often sparse sounds are perfect for this label. Nobody really solos here yet the music remains fascinating throughout.  By Bruce Lee Gallanter,

Vox Novus
Each Performer is top flight, and take full advantage of his/ her sonic surroundings, while not always spouting virtoustic licks every performer integrates their performance into their designated aural landscape, this is not a disc of performer + electronic music, this is a disc of chamber music. By Jay Batzner,

7. CopperHead Trio (AYLER RECORDS)

EL INTRUSO (SPAIN)Labyrinths | Copperhead Trio | Ayler Records
Alon Nechushtan es un notable pianista y compositor, nacido en Israel y radicado en Estados Unidos, que acredita una sobresaliente trayectoria artística. En su país natal fue discípulo de Vyacheslav “Slava” Ganelin; y una vez que fijó residencia en suelo estadounidense tuvo como mentor al recordado Bob Brookmayer e hizo estudios con pianistas del calibre de Fred Hersch, Paul Bley y Ran Blake. La sobresaliente producción de Nechushtan incluye al grupo de música progresiva Alon Nechushtan’s CopperHead Trio (junto a John Lockwood y Bob Gulloti), el liderazgo del ensamble experimental Alon Nechushtan’s Dark Forces (con contribuciones de Mark Dresser, Ned Rothenberg, Elliott Sharp, Oleg Raskin, Steve Swell, Briggan Krauss, Marcus Rojas, Okkyung Lee, Henry Kaiser y Nate Wooley), el Alon Nechushtan’s Words Beyond Trio en compañía de Dan Weiss y Francois Moutin, el emprendimiento multicultural con epicentro en la música judía Alon Nechushtan & Talat en el que participan Marc Mommaas, Matt Pavolka, Jordan Perlson y Matt Shulman y el proyecto Ritual Fire –materializado en 2013 con el álbum homónimo inspirado en la obra pictórica de Jackson Pollock– en donde estuvo secundado por el contrabajista Ken Filiano, el baterista Bob Meyer y el legendario clarinetista Harold Rubin. En los próximos días Alon Nechushtan presentará un nuevo álbum, el sexto de su producción discográfica como líder, bajo el titulo Venture Bound.En este trabajo participan –además de su líder en piano y composición- los saxofonistas John Ellis y Donny McCaslin, Chris Lightcap en contrabajo y Adam Cruz en batería y cuenta con los aportes en carácter de músicos invitados de Duane Eubanks en trompeta, Brahim Brigbane en oud y Roggerio Boccato en percusión. Venture Bound será publicado el próximo 10 de junio y su lanzamiento estará a cargo del sello ENJA Records. En apoyo a la edición del nuevo material, la banda encabezada por Nechushtan emprenderá en estos días una extensa gira que abarcará ambas costas del territorio estadounidense (New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc.) y algunas presentaciones en suelo israelí a llevarse a cabo entre los meses de agosto y octubre del presente año.

La raíz etimológica de la palabra arte deriva del antiguo vocablo pre-helénico “artao”, cuyo significado original describe “aquello que une” o “que debe ser unido”. A lo largo de la historia, el arte ha ido cambiando y expandiéndose tanto en objetivos como en paradigmas; pero ese principio implícito en el origen del término se mantuvo inalterable a través del tiempo. El arte tiende por naturaleza a reunir partes separadas: une al creador con su obra y a esta última con todo aquél que accede a la misma, une el mundo interior del autor con el contexto creativo de su tiempo y une la necesidad del artista por expresar los sentimientos que no puede transmitir de otra forma con las sensaciones y emociones –igualmente irrepetibles- que provoca en los destinatarios de su obra.

Entre los componentes indispensables del arte –además de sus vínculos socioculturales e históricos– también asoma una fuerte relación con los procesos de internalización humana y la integración del plano consciente e inconsciente, ligado por la técnica en la que la obra se sostiene y a través de la cual puede adquirir un status de perdurabilidad y trascendencia. En la búsqueda de los objetivos trazados, el artista debe sumergirse en su propia interioridad y –como afirma Pollock en la frase del epígrafe– utilizar la técnica “sólo como un medio para llegar a una declaración” estética. Todos estos elementos –en una clara analogía con los preceptos filológicos de la palabra “arte”- aparecen “unidos” en el núcleo estético que da vida al álbum Ritual Fire del notable pianista israelí Alon Nechushtan.

La relación de este álbum con Jackson Pollock no se circunscribe a una frase sino que, además, mantiene profundos lazos de unión con algunos de los principios centrales de su fascinante obra pictórica. La action painting o “pintura de acción” es una forma de arte que considera a la improvisación como elemento fundamental de la pintura; y Jackson Pollock es, justamente, el action painter por antonomasia. El diseño de sus obras no tiene relación con la forma o el tamaño del lienzo, ni usa el pincel y el caballete como en la pintura tradicional; en su lugar, fijó el lienzo a ras del suelo o a la pared y manipuló la pintura mediante la técnica de dripping (goteo) o con paletas, cuchillos y palos e incluso mezclándola con sustancias ajenas al arte pictórico tradicional como la arena, el cristal molido, el polvo de aluminio y los esmaltes.

En la obra de Pollock, el proceso –es decir, el acto ritual de pintar y el pensar en el arte como experiencia– se convierte en algo más importante que el resultado final.  Ergo, puede afirmarse que su alegato artístico tiene un fuerte anclaje con la revelación de los estados inconscientes del artista y, por extensión, se relaciona con las teorías surrealistas del automatismo. En la música libremente improvisada la técnica permite –de igual manera que en el dripping y la action painting de Pollock- exteriorizar ideas que fueron acopiándose durante años de escucha y aprendizaje. Ritual Fire se compone de una suite dividida en diez partes –que su autor, en una premeditada semejanza con la obra de Pollock, denominó An Action Suite in 10 Parts– en la que se desarrolla una especie de dialéctica entre la libre improvisación y el conocimiento exhaustivo de las técnicas establecidas y entre un momento espontáneo de creación musical en tiempo real con la ambición por documentar exitosamente una experiencia de carácter irrepetible.

Alon Nechushtan toca piano desde los seis años y comenzó a componer música de cámara a los diez. En su Israel natal fue discípulo de Slava Ganelin y, una vez radicado en Estados Unidos, tuvo como mentor al inolvidable Bob Brookmayer y continuó sus estudios con pianistas de la talla de Fred Hersch, Paul Bley y Ran Blake. En su reconocida trayectoria como líder de banda, aparecen el grupo progresivo Alon Nechushtan’s CopperHead Trio (en compañía de John Lockwood y Bob Gulloti), el ensamble experimental Alon Nechushtan’s Dark Forces (aquí comandando un combo multiestelar que incluyó a Mark Dresser, Ned Rothenberg, Elliott Sharp, Oleg Raskin, Steve Swell, Briggan Krauss, Marcus Rojas, Okkyung Lee, Henry Kaiser y Nate Wooley), el Alon Nechushtan’s Words Beyond Trio (junto a Francois Moutin y Dan Weiss) y el proyecto de música judía multicultural Alon Nechushtan & Talat que completan Marc Mommaas, Matt Pavolka, Jordan Perlson y Matt Shulman.

La nueva producción de Nechushtan se nutre, además de lo ya mencionado, de las cualidades instrumentales de una alineación sobresaliente que incluye al legendario clarinetista sudafricano y radicado en Israel Harold Rubin (líder de Zaviot Jazz Quartet), el experimentado baterista estadounidense Bob Meyer (Bob Meyer ProjectAlt.TimersJackalope, etc.) y el excepcional contrabajista Ken Filiano (líder de Ken Filiano’s Quantum Entanglements y miembro de Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet & 7-tette y Fay Victor Ensemble, entre otros).

En el episódico desarrollo de An Action Suite in 10 Parts se van enlazando con naturalidad el evanescente temperamento de Hover –subrayado por la autorizada intervención solista de Harold Rubin en clarinete y las delicadas frases que emergen del piano de Alon Nechushtan, el abrasivo carácter y la fortaleza colectiva de Ritual Fire, la profunda espiritualidad que emana del magnífico alegato instrumental en Psalmonody y el agitado tránsito de la pieza a piano trío Profusion. Tras el regreso al formato de cuarteto, sobrevienen la catártica exposición de Ruah Kadim (Eastern Wind) –que incluye una sustancial evolución dinámica-, la oscura melancolía que transmite Free Falling (coronada en un monumental solo en contrabajo a cargo de Ken Filiano) y la convincente interacción colectiva manifestada en Aureoles, aquí con especial destaque del soliloquio de Harold Rubin en clarinete y en el dramático crescendo desarrollado al conjuro de los coloridos impulsos de la batería de Bob Meyer. El categórico y equilibrado alegato de Accross The Ocean Like A Seagull –nuevamente en trío- encuentra su fundamento principal en una interpretación de nivel superlativo, donde se eslabonan los atinados aportes de Ken Filiano en contrabajo (alternando arco y pizzicato) y la variedad de acentos y matices que exhibe Bob Meyer en batería con el amplio e imaginativo vocabulario pianístico de Alon Nechushtan. La fase conclusiva del álbum incluye el aquilatado dueto de contrabajo y clarinete de Hamsin (Heat Wave) y la conmovedora declaración de Harold Rubin en una pieza a solo de clarinete, descriptivamente titulada Soliloqui.

Alon Nechushtan, en Ritual Fire, enhebra de manera axiomática los patrones estéticos de la improvisación libre con el pensamiento pictórico de Pollock, la expresión directa con la revelación del inconsciente, el conocimiento adquirido con el desprendimiento de certezas y lo emanado del intelecto con el instinto lúdico. En definitiva, hace honor al significado de la palabra arte y enlaza “aquello que deber ser unido” para la creación de algo nuevo. –
BY Sergio Piccirilli


8. For Those who Cross The Seas (ESP DISC)

Recording live in 2006, For Those Who Cross the Seas finds keyboardist and composer Alon Nechushtan assembling a titanic lineup of NYC free and experimental jazz players to perform a pair of longform pieces. “Astral Voyages,” on disk 1, combines free and spiritual jazz with a dash of New Orleans rhythm. Nechushtan provides warm electric piano chords and dreamy melody over which saxophonists Daniel Carter and Sabeer Matin, flautist/trumpeter Roy Campbell, and drummer Federico Ughi run wild. Bassist William Parker acts like his usual impeccable self, shifting casually from spontaneous improv to rock-solid groove and back like it’s just another (fulfilling) day at the office. Disk 2’s “Cosmic Canticles” fields a similar blend, but emphasizes groove over power, with the late Campbell giving an especially fervent performance. Though it’s his music, Nechushtan seems perfectly happy to stay in the background providing a foundation for his colleagues to stand tall upon. For Those Who Cross the Seas, great rewards beckon. by  12 December 2023 The Big TakeOver

Look at those players Alon Nechushtan brought together for this gig! The late, great Roy Campbell; reed masters Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen; mayor of the NYC avant-jazz scene William Parker; versatile drummer Federico Ughi. Then listen: they all live up to their reputations. And then there’s Nechushtan himself, born in Tel Aviv and long a thriving presence in New York as both composer and improviser. This concert happened at a time of considerable ferment on the NYC scene, with established virtuosi meeting the next generation — often, as was the case this night, in Brooklyn and specifically Williamsburg venues, of which Zebulon was one of the greatest supporters of the improvisation scene documented so well in Cisco Bradley‘s recent book The Williamsburg Avant-Garde: Experimental Music and Sound on the Brooklyn Waterfront. Forced Exposure

On March 5, 2006, this live performance took place at the Zebulon in Brooklyn. The band are Alon Nechushtan on keyboards, the late Roy Campbell on trumpet and flute, Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen on sax and clarinet, William Parker on bass, and Federico Ughi on drums. Fans of free jazz will love this album, despite all its flaws. First, it’s a great line-up, and any opportunity to hear Roy Campbell play trumpet is a joy, including here. Second, this music is as free as the wind, with the first track, “Astral Voyages”, clocking un-interrupted at 51 minutes, and the second, “Cosmic Cantics“, at 45 minutes, equally without interruption. Third, there is no sense of hurry, nothing to reach, no place to attain, just to perform in the moment, and be part of the flow. This last one is also one of the flaws. It’s a little too non-committal in terms of sound and musical vision. It’s nice to hear, it’s fun to listen to the interaction, especially from these musicians, but things could have been a little more daring for me. The other flaw is the recording quality which is not always ideal. But that should not spoil the fun. The musicians appeal to their broad repertoire of jazz styles and sub-genres. There are totally free moments, boppish moments, passages that remind of Bitches’ Brew, especially because of the tempo and Nechustan’s electric piano, other moments of pure pentatonic blues, with Campbell also giving some excursions into middle-eastern tonalities. It’s long, it has no sense of direction, but the playing is good, and we would give a lot to hear Roy Campbell play again. So it’s fantastic that this has been made available. Stef Gijssels FreeJazzBlog  Listen and download from Bandcamp.

This is an archival album by Israeli Jazz pianist / composer Alon Nechushtan, recorded in a sextet setting with top American Improvising Music / Free Jazz musicians: flautist / trumpeter Roy Campbell, clarinetists / saxophonists Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen, bassist William Parker and Italian (resident in US) drummer Federico Ughi. The 2CD album presents a two-part suite, each part taking an entire length of a CD, not broken into individual tracks. All the music was composed by Nechushtan and was recorded live at the legendary Zebulon club in Brooklyn, seventeen years prior to its release. Following his move to the US, Nechushtan continued his musical studies and performed with many local musicians, establishing over time one of the grandest careers in Contemporary Music, writing an astonishing amount of works for orchestras, choirs and smaller ensembles, always including some basic Jazz / Improvised Music elements, and is today one of the most well-known and respected Israeli composers worldwide. The music on this album was recorded at the early days of his US career, but the list of participating musicians reflects the respect and recognition of the American Improvising Music scene he received already at that time. The album offers a typical Improvised Music / Free Jazz ambience, with constant development of individual and group improvisations, flowing slowly between reflective, almost ambient moments and intensive crescendos, supported steadily by the rhythm section. With never a dull moment, the over ninety minutes long performance is full of stunning soloing and collective mayhem, which is an exhilarating sonic experience for those who enjoy Improvised Music at its core. Overall, this is a nostalgic glance over the shoulder for Nechushtan, a brief moment in his early days, a snapshot of the Improvising Music NY scene, a memory of an iconic venue, which was closed and moved from NY to LA, and a solid evidence of the collective creativity, which ruled this music at the time. This is definitely worth investigating to all Improvised Music enthusiasts, as the music lost nothing of its charm over time! Adam Baruch Jassis



9. Chasms Omens Shards Spells (Naxos)

Similarly complex is Alon Nechushtan‘s symphony Chasms-Omens-Shards-Spells, which draws upon ancient religions and  includes tracks inspired by Borges, Bradbury and Ives (Naxos, September). Richard Ellen, A closer Listen.


ALON NECHUSHTAN // MANHATTAN WIND ENSEMBLE / TEL AVIV SOLOIST ORCHESTRA / NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY ORCHESTRA / M.I.T. FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA / et al- Concerto for Orchestra: Chasms / Omens / Shards / Spells (Composers Concordance Records / Naxos; USA) Israeli-born pianist Alon Nechustan has a half dozen discs out on labels like Tzadik, Enja, Between the Lines & Creative Sources, each one with different personnel and overall sound. Each of Mr. Nechustan’s previous discs come from the avant/jazz stream. This ambitious new two CD set features Nechustan’s classical composing and it is performed by seven different orchestral ensembles, each one from a different place. Every few years, Alon Nechustan comes to visit us here at DMG and leave us with a new CD. I’ve enjoyed all of the previous discs that heârs left but I didn’t quite expect this new one since it is all orchestral music for different ensembles. I’ve been listening seriously to modern classical since the late 1960s when Frank Zappa mentioned composers like Stravinsky, Bartok, Varese, Cage & Stockhausen. Thanks to my favorite record store, Princeton Record Exchange, I’ve been able to acquire hundreds of CDs from the many modern classical composers that I still dig, many for just $1 or $2 bucks. I try to listen to at least one of these discs every or every other night to better appreciate this music. Alon Nechustan’s Concerto for Orchestra has ten parts and is performed by seven different large ensembles from varied places like Tel Aviv, the Philippines, M.I.T. and the Manhattan Wind Ensemble. Secret Sect opens with some austere, haunting, warm and engaging sea of strings. The sound of those bowed cellos and other low-end strings is especially mesmerizing. I find that this music displays quite a bit of different feelings or vibes. “Ancient Landscapes has a warm, more restrained sound with suspense-filled low end strings and perhaps brass. Things sound more traditional with music drawn from an earlier era when certain modern composers wrote for Hollywood films, expressive but not too far out. Each of the ten pieces here express a different vibe or sonic scene. I had a variety of images passing through my eyelid movies as each piece unfolds. Even with seven different ensembles involved, the sound throughout this disc is consistent, engaging and thoughtful. Let’s give a hand to Alon Nechushtan, a fine composer in hiw own right. –Bruce Lee Gallanter, DownTown Music Gallery

This is an album by Israeli (Resident in US) Jazz pianist / composer Alon Nechushtan, which presents this time his contemporary Classical Music compositions. The 2CD album includes ten compositions, all part of a Concerto for Orchestra, or ten-piece suite, which were recorded over a period of several years by seven different orchestras / ensembles in various parts of the world. Listeners familiar with Nechushtan’s Jazz output might be perhaps surprised by this venture into the Classical Music idiom, but the fact that he pursued this highly ambitious project for so long testifies how important this music is to him, and the result is definitely worthy of being heard and enjoyed. Nechushtan employs the entire modern (well 20th Century) Classical Orchestral Music arsenal of sonorities and structures, which has solid melodic continuity, but eschews all Romantic / Sentimental ventures in favor of rather somber atmospheric themes and multi-layered instrumental configurations, yet skillfully manages not to sound bombastic. As a result, the listener in engrossed by a dense, but low key flow of themes, which continue from one part of the suite into the next, creating an enchanting journey, which sounds at times like a soundtracks of an imaginary movie, or theatre performance. This is definitely a kind of music, which demands concentration and undivided attention, a pre-requisite not easily available these days. But for the right audience, this music should be definitely fascinating and highly rewarding, although might perhaps need several listening sessions in order to be fully appreciated. For Nechushtan this is certainly a confirmation of his maturity as a composer and a cross-genre aficionado. Overall, this is a major piece of contemporary Orchestral Classical Music, rich and complex, full of wonderful compositional skills and highly imaginative mind behind it. As such, I can only recommend it wholeheartedly, hoping that many music lovers will discover this music and learn to love it, as I did. Adam Baruch – The Soundtrack Of My Life