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Silvan Joray - Updraft
(Ubuntu Music, 2023)
Guitarist Silvan Joray plays with an attractive, slightly rounded, clear tone. His notes are articulated cleanly, never getting in the way of one another. His chording is likewise expansive and orchestral. He leads a trio with a rhythm section of bassist Nadav Erlich and drummer Jeff Ballard through seven original compositions, two improvised pieces, and two standards. Joray’s invention lay in his rhythmic and melodic approaches rather than effects and rote technique.
The two brief improvised works, “Morning Breeze” and “Evening Breeze,” act as a delicate internal scaffolding that supports the more structured program. Quietly impressionistic, they reveal a harmonic dichotomy of peace and quiet. Joray achieves an ECM soundscape with little effort. The opening “Kokodrillo” features Joray’s clean chording as well as allowing Erlich a potent presence. Ballard plays with the snare thrown off, giving the percussion an East African sound. Joray’s soloing is serene with a building anxiety toward a coda abruptly returning calm to the performance.
The title cut emphasizes Ballard’s corner-filling cymbal work, coupled with judicious snare use. This song swings with an effortless 4/4 grace that takes advantage of Erlich’s steady walk. Joray’s soloing becomes angular and fluid alternating with his inquisitive chord playing. Erlich takes a woody solo, keeping the beat intact. Andrew Hill’s “Subterfuge” (from Black Fire (Blue Note Records, 1964)) provides the guitarist his most challenging and successful material, buoyed by Ballard’s crack post bop drumming.
Cole Porter’s “At Long Last Love” gets a straight-ahead ballad treatment. The trio melds into an empathic groove that permits each musician room within the 32-bar form to explore more daring climes than those imagined by Porter when he composed the piece in 1938 for his Broadway musical You Never Know. Joray’s coda disintegrates like cigarette smoke blown into a glass of scotch, neat. It is an ethearal image that holds the collection together.