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Eddie Gomez/Mark Kramer: Jazz Fiddler on the Roof

The liner notes for Jazz Fiddler on the Roof reveal that Fiddler composer Jerry Bock considers this “the very best jazz treatment of the Fiddler on the Roof score I’ve ever heard.” Perhaps one reason why this version meets with Bock’s favor is that it’s pretty easy to hear all the tunes in Eddie Gomez and Mark Kramer’s fluent straightahead take on the biggest “Fiddler” hits.

Bassist Gomez and pianist Kramer arranged 10 songs from the musical for jazz trio, giving drumming duties to John Mosemann. It’s Gomez who really sparks the record, though, whether he’s bowing the first statement of a melody in rhapsodic fiddlin’ style or improvising over changes within the standard trio texture. In a magical passage in “Sunrise Sunset,” Gomez’s plucked bass moves deliberately but purposefully under Kramer’s distant, high piano chords; in quicker songs like “Tradition” and “Miracle of Miracles,” Gomez takes inventive angles on harmonies and reels off quick streams of notes while Kramer and Mosemann provide support. Kramer plays as fluently but not quite as distinctively as Gomez, and the two understandably seem more locked-in with each other than with Mosemann. Occasionally, some brass hits and synthy strings enter the mix, though the liner notes do not reveal where these come from and they don’t add much to the texture.

All of which is to say that this record doesn’t do anything you absolutely have to hear right now, in terms of transforming the music or superlative trio playing; however, fans of Fiddler and fans of Gomez’s bass should feel like rich men (or women) with Jazz Fiddler on the Roof.

Originally Published