There’s a lot of buzz around ace clarinetist Anat Cohen, but there’s another lady horn player from Israel who deserves a lot of attention, too. Reut Regev plays not reeds but brass, and her trombone knows no bounds in its spunk and personality; she apparently loves to apply it in the loosest, most impulsive settings. Maybe that comes from hanging around the likes of Elliott Sharp, Butch Morris, Dave Douglas or Anthony Braxton, but even as her R*Time ensemble isn’t strictly improvised music, it’s more like modern, experimental fusion jazz. She and her husband, drummer Igal Foni, form the core of R*Time that debuted with an albumThis is R*time back in ’09.
Earlier this year came the second release, exploRing the vibe, and the husband-wife team is bolstered this time by acoustic/electric bassist Mark Peterson and blues-fusion guitarist Jean Paul Bourelly. Bourelly’s presence on this album proves to be the distinguishing feature of an album of music that’s already distinctive. The multi-ethnic rhythms from Foni, the sparse, raw sonic footprint and Regev’s own reliable feel for the direction of a loosely defined song gives the proceedings a James Blood Ulmer sensibility.
Regev remains the one egging her band on to race toward every far corner of music, and her range on the trombone becomes readily evident from the start on “Drama Maybe Drama,” reaching back to Jack Teagarden as her backing band is imposing experimental rock, but then later moving ahead of the present, inventing alien trombone sounds of her own as she engages in anything-goes give-and-take with Bourelly.
“Montenegro” traverses over funk, blues-rock and even a hint of klezmer; Regev herself switches among trombone, frula flute, trombone and a trombone close cousin the slide trumpet improvising free of clichés and giving Bourelly room to operate freely. “Ihlia Bela” resembles West African folk music, especially with Bourelly on an acoustic guitar played like a kora. “Madeleine Forever” is just nasty, muscular rock-jazz and Bourelly cuts loose with a feral solo as the rhythm section can barely contain itself.
The “Great Pretender” is not the Platters song, but Bourelly sings convincingly over a syncopated Haitian groove as Regev wails in the background. Foni devises another bare, tribal beat for “OK Oj,” and Regev’s trombone without much else in the way of accompaniment, is full of grit. “Raw Way” is brooding avant-rock, Peterson’s electric bass leaving a big dominant bottom in defining the basic harmony, and Regev’s FX charged trombone resembling a menacing metal guitar.
It’s a record that truly lives up to the title, as each song has a vibe of one sort of another, and they are all exploratory in nature. That’s what R*Time is about, after all. With music this fearless, vibrant and spontaneous, Reut Regev has staked out her own exciting little corner of progressive jazz, and it’s a place I want to visit often.
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