The Music of Amit Golan
In light of the circumstances surrounding this midsize combo session, chances are we won’t see another one quite like it. But no doubt there will be forthcoming tributes to the late Israeli pianist, composer and jazz educator Amit Golan.
Here’s the backstory, in a nutshell. Golan, who founded the jazz department at the Israeli Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv, invited veteran trumpeter Eddie Henderson to play on a sextet recording session scheduled for last year. But Golan passed away, quite suddenly, six months prior to the date. As a tribute, his bandmates and Henderson decided to honor Golan’s plans and wishes, and the result is this relaxed, solid, evocative hard-bop outing recorded in Tel Aviv.
Primarily a sextet session and largely devoted to Golan’s compositions, the album features a rotating cast of 10 musicians, including a frontline consisting of Henderson, trombonist Jonathan Voltzuk and tenor saxophonist Asaf Yuria. With their attractive, blues-tinted, Jazz Messengers-ish themes, the mostly midtempo tunes composed by Golan are well suited to Henderson’s talents. Even so, his interpretation of the ballad “One for Blue” quietly stands out, enhanced by a rhythm section that features guitarist Ofer Ganor. Given the prevailing mood, it’s not surprising that the album is rounded out by Golan’s arrangements of Lee Morgan’s “Carolyn” and Benny Golson’s “Out of the Past.” Morgan’s minor-key theme inspires a particularly soulful Henderson recital, adding another layer of depth to this obviously heartfelt homage.