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November 2006

Reuben Hoch and Time
Of Recent Time
Naim Label

As a side project to his ongoing Chassidic Jazz Project, drummer Hoch has put together this marvelous, highly interactive trio featuring bassist Ed Schuller and the great veteran pianist Don Friedman, a contemporary of Bill Evans whose elegant approach to the keyboard has served the likes of Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, Clark Terry and Ornette Coleman over the past 50 years. On Of Recent Time, the three kindred spirits put their heartfelt stamp on evocative material by Sam Rivers (a sprightly “Beatrice”), Pat Metheny (“Question and Answer,” in 3/4 time), Brad Mehldau (the hauntingly beautiful “Unrequit-ed”), Ornette Coleman (an open-ended rendition of “Turnaround”), Steve Kuhn (a Zenlike, spacious take on the moody “Poem for #15”) and Wayne Shorter (“Yes and No”).

An intelligent, reliable timekeeper and intuitive colorist on the kit, Hoch acquits himself nicely with requisite swing factor throughout this session while eagerly commenting on the proceedings with sly accents and well-placed percussive statements. He conjures up the spirit of Elvin Jones in his rolling-thunder approach to “Yes and No” and melodically plays the head on Ornette’s “Turnaround” before opening up that jamming vehicle to an animated three-way conversation by the unit. Hoch also contributes the luminous rubato composition “Ballad for Nori,” which showcases Hoch’s deft brushwork. Friedman also contributes the groove-oriented “Flamands,” which Hoch underscores with a lightly swinging touch.

Kudos also to engineer Ken Christianson, who was able to capture an organic, very present sound by recording the session with just two microphones and an open-reel Nagra recorder. His unique production truly captures the intimacy and magic that happened on this vibrant session.

Originally published in November 2006
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