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Rotem Sivan Trio: A New Dance

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On A New Dance, guitarist-composer Rotem Sivan and his musicians, bassist Haggai Cohen-Milo and drummer Colin Stranahan, weave 10 tracks of such hushed, bittersweet warmth that their intricacies may sneak up on you. Sivan’s singular combination of impressive technical agility with a disarmingly delicate tone results in a sound mellow enough to make pleasant background music. But for the patient and attentive listener, real rewards can be found here.

Sivan’s gifts as an instrumentalist are most vividly displayed on his rendition of Monk’s “In Walked Bud,” one of three covers on an album otherwise consisting of originals. He leads with dense, Asian-inflected single-note clusters; evolves, with Cohen-Milo’s guidance, through pointed, bluesy stings; then eases into an impressionistic run where his guitar mimics the distinctively echoey vibe of a Fender Rhodes. The varying shades of Sivan’s style are eloquently reflected on his muscular approach to the jittery patterns of “Fingerprints,” the midnight cool of his touch on the title track, and the beaming, eyes-wide-open innocence of his lines on “One for Aba” and the shimmering miniature “Sun & Stars.”

Cohen-Milo’s sound, lean yet authoritative, meshes skillfully with Stranahan’s marching trills and unsettled cymbals to intensify the moody gravity of “Yam,” and the bassist’s introductory melodic statement on the standard “Angel Eyes” almost swoons with the pain of loss. Stranahan constantly embellishes his tight rhythmic beds with perfectly timed snare pops and cymbal bursts, as on the pensive “I Wish You Were Here.” Daniel Wright’s gossamer guest vocals, ideally wedded to Sivan’s soft, spidery harmonies, render the ethereal “Almond Tree” a highlight, and Oded Tzur’s arrestingly wheezy tenor sax draws weary pathos from album-closer “I Fall in Love Too Easily.” Tzur’s blowing here is at times so muted you can hear his fingers pressing the horn’s keys more than his notes.

Originally Published