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Edom by Eyal Maoz

I’m not sure how to pronounce it either, but this fellow Eyal Maoz is, to employ hackneyed critical phraseology, a talent to watch. Maoz is Israeli-born, New York City-residing guitarist who has gloriously "big ears" - no, no, you silly goose, not on his head, but in his mind and/or soul. Stylistically, Edom is not unlike those early daze, the first flower of fusion, that much maligned beast. I’m speaking of the early recordings by the Tony Williams Lifetime, Larry Coryell, John McLaughlin (who incidentally was an early member of Williams’ Lifetime), and the U.K. band Isotope and even the bands on the rock side of the equation, such as Traffic, Brian Auger’s Trinity/Oblivion Express, Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats and Jimi Hendrix.

Without any overt plagiarism, tribute, or "quotations," Edom is full of big chunks of the aforementioned - more importantly, rather than "being reminiscent of" the Eyal Maoz Combo shares their approach, that try-anything, to hell with any vainglorious "purism." Maoz himself is gloriously hard to pin down stylistically - a mix of Larry Coryell, Link Wray, Hank Marvin (from the 60s U.K. instrumental band the Shadows), Chris Brokaw, Hendrix (minus the excesses) and (bless him) Sonny Sharrock. He’s got a fierce, chunky, in-your-face style that avoids excessive blather - knows when to strut, when to pull back and when, as on "Hope and Destruction," to let loose the lightning of some cathartically glorious noise. (EM even indulges in a bit of tres cool tremolo here ‘n’ there.) John Medeski (of Martin & Wood fame) lays down sheets of thick, tasty sheets ‘n’ swirls of opulent, mercurial Hammond B3 organ. I hear a bits of Steve Winwood (of Traffic), Big John Patton, Brian Auger and (of all people) Keith Emerson lurking within. The rhythm firm of Blumnekranz & Perowsky are a bit subdued (no solos, Perowski does conjure thunder), but they’re the legs on which this table rests.... and structurally sound, too.

Compositionally, Maoz lets his Hebraic/Middle Eastern muse run free with all kinds of cool minor chords and arabesques. But Edom is no somber ethnomusicology lecture. The EMC let all this stuff run loose in a affable context that’s part intimate soul-jazz group, part Ventures. (You ever hear The Ventures In Space? Incredible!) There may be no surf in Cleveland, but Maoz & company ride the perfect wave from Gaza to a pleasant dark jazz club in Anytown, USA you have to walk down one or two flights of stairs to get to and if you’re lucky, they’ll serve falafel sandwiches 'til 2 AM. Edom gets that elusive three thumbs up rating.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Eyal Maoz
  • CD Title: Edom
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Tzadik
  • Tracks: Lost, Chita, From There, Eye, 5 others.
  • Musicians: E. Maoz (electric guitar), John Medeski (B3 organ), Shanir Blumenkranz (bass), Ben Perowsky (drums).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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