Half Notes: Ehud Asherie, with Harry Allen – Upper West Side (2012)

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Photo courtesy of Posi-Tone Records

The talented young pianist Ehud Asherie doesn’t look to bowl you over with sheer speed and power but rather, seduce you with taste and swing. You’re much more likely to hear some of his main influences like Erroll Garner or even James P. Johnson in his approach than, say, McCoy Tyner. For his fifth album Upper West Side, Asherie chose to play without a combo and make this a more direct affair with only a tenor sax with which to share the sound space. And who better to couple up with than the tender, pre-war sax sounds of Harry Allen? No bass and drums are needed to swing, and swing with authority. Just take a gander of their treatment of a great old tune like “I Want To Be Happy,” that sounds every bit as rhythmic as a full big band. Or the unabashedly romantic take on “I’m In The Mood For Love,” where Allen’s sax is as emotive and sensitive as Lester Young’s. Asherie, meanwhile, is able to pivot to and from comping and leading with ease, often blurring the lines between the two. Though all eleven sides are well known, well worn standards, Asherie and Allen breathe new life in them by, ironically, giving them old readings. Perhaps the joy I take from this record comes from there being so few who seem willing these days to take on those tunes like that anymore. Hats off to Ehud Asherie—and Harry Allen—for minding the jazz of a great, forgotten era.

Upper West Side, from Posi-Tone Records, will go on sale January 31. Visit Ehud Asherie’s website.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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