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Uri Gurvich: Kinship (Jazz Family)

Review of saxophonist's collection of "buoyant bop and international folk music"

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Cover of Uri Gurvich album "Kinship"
Cover of Uri Gurvich album “Kinship”

Kinship is an affable assortment of buoyant bop and international folk music traditions. As with leader Uri Gurvich’s two previous discs (both on Tzadik), the album flexes the virtues of the ensemble’s cosmopolitan lineage—Gurvich the Israeli saxophonist, Argentinian pianist Leo Genovese, Bulgarian bassist Peter Slavov and Cuban drummer Francisco Mela.

Two saxophonists not on the disc have a pronounced influence on the proceedings. One is Joe Lovano, who has taught and/or played with every member of the quartet, and whose Us Five shares a musical template with Gurvich’s ensemble. Gurvich’s ability to unpredictably flit and dart through the phrasing on his (primarily alto) horn while retaining the integrity of the groove is likewise reminiscent of Lovano. The other totem of Kinship is John Coltrane and his orbit of cohorts. You hear it in the way “Song for Kate” (a tribute to Gurvich’s wife) resembles the sunny spunk of McCoy Tyner’s “Fly With the Wind”; in Gurvich’s serene, soaring soprano à la Coltrane on “Go Down Moses” (a spiritual marred by some very unsoulful chanting later in the cut); and in Genovese’s Alice Coltrane-like arpeggios on the title track.

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