Another Great 2009 CD
I found this one quite by accident: Sam Yahel's "Hometown". It's a piano trio featuring Sam on piano, Matt Penman on Bass and Jochen Ruckert on bass.
Just to get it out of the way, the recording is really, really good, on par with the best I heard last year which was Ahmad Jamal's 'A Quiet Time'. Extended and smooth without any cd tiziness in the highs, terrific scale and very spacious sounding. The bass sounds particularly nice and woody.
The album is a mix of originals and cover that are performed to hang together well. The Ellington Classic 'Blue Pepper' is a highlight. Mr. Yahel's originals exhibit a great combination of technical chops, rythmic inventiveness and musical lyricism. Even an old battle ax, 'Moonlight in Vermont', sounds fresh here.
Just to compare it to something, IMHO 'Hometown' is a far better record than the other piano trio fave of the year, VJ Ayer's Historicity. While a brilliant set of technical compositions, Historicity sounds, at least to these ears, like a collection of student exercises in complexity. Mr. Yahel's record exhibits equal skill in a far more beautiful and listenable package.
You can't go wrong with this one.