Ariel Bart – ‘In Between’ – News, reviews, articles and commentaries from the London jazz scene and beyond
Ariel bart – Between
(Ropeadope Records. Album review by Jane Mann)
22 years old Ariel bart is a chromatic harmonica player and composer from Israel. In 2019, she played on American free jazz bassist William Parker Migration of silence in and out of sound worlds, and on The center will hold by avant-garde American jazz trombonist Steve Swell. Between is his first CD with his own jazz quintet. She picked up her unusual instrument at age seven, continued her high school education, did her military service in the Israel Defense Forces as a musician, and then went to New York to finish her studies. She has just completed her studies in Jazz Performance from New School University.
She joins a very small group of chromatic jazz harmonica players – including Toots Thielemans, Karen Mantler and Stevie Wonder. Along with jazz, she enjoys what she calls “flavors of the Middle East” – she has performed with the Jerusalem East West Orchestra, which performs music from the Middle East, Andalusia and the Maghreb on a mix of Western and Middle Eastern instruments. She adores the music of Anouar Brahem, the Tunisian oud player, and discovers Turkish music. She also listens to Keith Jarrett – the piano is her second instrument, and the one she composes on.
The combination of instruments in his group of talented young musicians is unexpected – a traditional jazz piano trio plus a front line of cello and chromatic harmonica. This cello and harmonica pairing sounds great, especially when the harmonica sound is most accordion-like. Bart composed and produced all the music.
There are no cover notes for reference, but the tracks on the whole come across as melancholy and contemplative, even when the rhythm section players are doing their delicate but complicated thing. Bart has a gift for a nostalgic melody, for tunes imbued with great desire and sadness. Its clear tone is beautiful and haunting, and the music is light and accessible.
Many of the tracks sound to my ears like fantasy movie soundtracks. Stranger on the hill, for example, it is like a short overture during which the cello, piano and harmonica pass a fragment of a song between them, embellishing it slightly as it goes, until the theme resurfaces apart whole (in my mind as imaginary titles roll).
The year after has another beautiful melody – the harmonica leads but the band is completely nested in the musical whole. Special mention here for the complex duet between Bart and the pianist Moshe elmakias. He’s also Israeli, an exact contemporary of Bart who also passed his compulsory military service as a musician – this seems like a great finishing school for honing musical technique.
Cellist based in Greece Mayu shviro gets to showcase considerable short track skills Intro. Born in Israel of Japanese and Iraqi descent, Shviro has a special interest in modal music and Arabic, Turkish and Azeri musical forms, and you can hear some of those influences here. Israeli bassist David Michaeli, who has a parallel career in jazz rock with a Tel Aviv band called Shalosh (recorded by ACT), plays elegant chamber jazz there. In contrast, a drummer based in Brooklyn but raised in Israel Amir Bar Akiva has a fascination with Latin rhythms, as well as traditional Israeli rhythms – his playing here is subtle and precise. All these different specializations, but shared sensibilities, make them an extremely nice group. Small tugs in different musical directions translate into interesting collaborative work.
I’m curious to see what comes next as Ariel Bart continues to develop his musical voice and expand his range of composition. She plans to study for a masters degree in Europe, as soon as possible, so hopefully we might be lucky enough to hear her and her adorable quintet perform live in the not too distant future.
CONNECT: Between at Ropeadope Records
In Between is released on May 20, 2021