Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Ben Perowsky, Frank Perowsky, Sam Yahel: Bop On Pop

Ben Perowsky, his father, Frank, and Sam Yahel are a trio that leaves you feeling optimistic about the state of jazz. No, they don’t play prophetic or futuristic music. Nor do they sermonize about the past. They do, however, on this album, perform crisp, straightahead jazz with originality, swing and passion.

Drummer Ben, who produced the session, has worked with Roy Ayers, Walter Becker (of Steely Dan), Dave Douglas, David Liebman, the Lounge Lizards, Pat Martino, James Moody and John Scofield, among others. He creates excitement in a classic Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson sort of way, although stylistically he owes as much to more modern drummers. (He studied with Bobby Thomas and Alan Dawson.)

Tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Frank, a big band alum (the Elgarts, Woody Herman, Bill Watrous, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis) and Broadway pit-band musician, has a fine tone and a flair for bop lines that breathe. He is one of but a few bebop clarinetists. On Fats Waller’s “The Jitterbug Waltz,” Horace Silver’s “Quicksilver” and Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” his clarinet style suggests Tony Scott. On tenor on the other six tracks, he is occasionally reminiscent of Hank Mobley and early Sonny Rollins, which is to say thoughtful, structured and clear in direction.

Organist Yahel (who has been performing in Joshua Redman’s Elastic Band) appears on seven tracks and provides all the right harmonic colors for the ensemble. His accents and dynamics often add a subtle hint of mystery to the proceedings. Although Yahel is plenty funky and punchy on “Star Eyes,” he generally eschews the grits-and-gravy jazz organ style throughout the album in favor of a more diverse menu.

Originally Published