Maetar is a talented band, they compose some beautiful ballards with sweeping arrangements ranging from sublime and soft to hard and rocking, with driving jazz-funk grooves. You cannot lock these guys into a genre, except that of jazz, their credentials in that arena speak for themselves. For an absolutely definitive taste of what Maetar can lay down in a single track you have to check out track 2, "The B-Inn". This track starts out with Hagai blowing a tune over a tight rhythm section which builds on each new round, building on the theme, but adding complexity, dynamic, expanded range, and intensity. When Itai dives in with his bass solo, you don’t loose a moment of energy. A strong track exhibiting Maetar’s strengths and why their live show is a must see for L.A. jazz fans. "Friend and Lover Suite" is a beautiful ballad played by Izraeli, and shows his sensitivity for the more traditional song. In track 4, "El Bowie" they are back to trading off jazz-funk licks between the horn and the bass. It all works so well, so tight, and grooving!
The fifth track, "Wake-Up", features Hagai on keys, and the rhythm section is driving this song all the way through. Disraeli and Buck keep the groove tight and flying. It is a fun song to listen to. Not too complicated, just a fun romp over a groove that has spirit. When Hagai jumps in with the flugelhorn, it bursts out to add so much color to the tune, his dynamics and use of a broad palette of techniques makes the song explode.
The sixth track, "Nine", is the quintessential Maetar song. Hagai hauls out some unique instruments for this track and watching him perform live is like a painter with a bare canvas and lots of colors and brushes, he paints first with broad back ground strokes, and then choosing instruments of various color, he layers and adds dimension to the piece. The middle-eastern influence is ever-present, but the jazz interpretation is clearly contemporary, and pure Maetar! "Ocean Song", the seventh track opens with some tonal similarity to a Pat Metheny song, and the sound of the ocean underlying the notes. It is a gentle melodic tune and really has that "down by the sea" feeling, with a country twang. Unique and pleasurable, it rolls out of the guitar melody into a pulsing groove and the band fills the song in nicely. You can hear Hagai, one hand on his horn and the other pulsing chords on the keys. This band always sounds like there are more of them than their really are.
"River of Time" another melodic tune launched by the tight grooves of the rhythm section. Hagai wastes no time setting the mood for this song, deep and soulful. Mindful of a Miles groove, notes where they were needed, no more no less. The essential groove is born in the ostinato, and Buck holds this one tightly.
The final cut continues with a strong rim ostinato, and the melody is a soft and stretching one, building on the theme of River of Time¸ but it takes the song to a different level. Closing out the CD with the ever-present signatures of the musicians of Maetar. A simple group with simply entertaining compositions executed in a well thought, highly practiced craft adding new colors, textures, and grooves to the jazz vocabulary. Worldly music, but not exactly world music, but clearly jazz, and definitely funky. Enjoy Maetar Live, and if you can, go see them, LIVE!