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Get Up Close by Eldad Tarmu

Although certainly not as well known as Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, Cal Tjader, Gary Burton, or Stefan Harris, Eldad Tarmu is destined to make a name for himself in the jazz world. Not only is Eldad a first-rate vibraphonist, but his compositional ideas also bring an interesting and innovative sound to the fore. His newest Rhombus Records release Get Up Close is an impressive collection of ten jazz originals all recorded with a very high level of refined musicianship. From the impressive opening track, the fine writing, arranging and playing on this CD will entrance the listener.

The Nooze is an up-tempo wonderfully bopish venture that opens the recording. Featured soloists are Tarmu, Ernie Watts on tenor saxophone, and Cengiz Yaltkaya on piano. The tune is full of creative uses of double and half timing, and all the soloists delight the ear with a good balance of melodic surprises and anticipated resolutions. In contrast, the second and title cut of the CD Get Up Close certainly has a more intimate sound than the rollicking opener. Although not rhythmically timid, the overall impression of the tune is softer due to the use of brushes by drummer Steve Sykes, and the flute of Derrick Davis.

The third tune Her Story is a romantic ballad that has sounds leaning toward the smooth jazz arena. Saxophonist Watts is featured on alto in this laid back easy going tune. Following the sweet ballad, Tarmu and band mates turn up the heat with the tune Minor Burns. This up-tempo piece features pianist Yaltkaya leading the improvisational forays followed by Tarmu and guitarist Ron Affif all playing scorching solos.

The Tourist is a combination of the familiar, but never tiresome combination of a Latin beat with swing. The rhythm section lays down an excellent groove, and the soloing efforts of trombonist Arturo Velasco along with solos on vibes and piano demonstrate these musicians are in no way merely tourists of the jazz idiom. Float Above the Rain, the sixth tune is a mellow sounding jazz waltz that truly gives the impression of floating. Drummer Sykes again using brushes provides the rhythmic drive over which piano and vibraphone solos float with seamlessly little effort, all framed by minimal horn lines from the trumpet of Josh Aguillar and tenor sax of Ryan Woodward.

The talents of Derrick Davis are again brought to the front in the tune Yafo. Davis is featured on alto sax on this up tempo work that balances a driving vamp juxtaposed with the rhythmic release of wide open swing. Solo efforts on piano and vibes are also a satisfying drive. Planet Blue, the eighth tune on the CD is a cool blue hued tune that features the Harmon muted trumpet of Josh Aguillar playing the head and soloing quite capably between solos by Tarmu and pianist Yaltkaya.

The tune In the Air is co-arranged by Tarmu with pianist Yaltkaya. The vibes are featured playing the relatively simple and straightforward head over a modal vamp that is contrasted with swinging sections and added horns. Solos on piano and vibraphone provide the improvisatory flights of fancy all framed by a tight rhythm and horn section. The final cut on the CD, Deep Inside the Drum, is an interestingly "quiet thunder" of a piece. Steve Sykes’ use of mallets on his drums provides a "muffled" timbre to the ensemble. His solo at the end of piece perhaps lends some inference to the tune’s title. In addition to fine soloing again by Tarmu, the talents of Ryan Woodward are featured on tenor saxophone.

When hearing the first cut of Get Up Close, the listener may very well realize they are in for a musical treat. This collection of tunes by Eldad Tarmu is one that should not disappoint any listener to contemporary jazz music. Get Up Close would be a welcome addition to any jazz collection, and certainly leads one to look forward to Tarmu’s next recording project.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Eldad Tarmu
  • CD Title: Get Up Close
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Rhombus Records
  • Tracks: The Nooze, Get Up Close, Her Story, Minor Burns, The Tourist, Float Above the Rain, Yafo, Planet Blue, In the Air, Deep Inside the Drum
  • Musicians: Eldad Tarmu (vibraphone), Cengiz Yaltkaya (piano), Trevor Ware (bass), Steve Sykes (drums), Ernie Watts (alto and tenor saxophone), Derrick Davis (alto saxophone and flute), Ryan Woodward (alto and tenor saxophones), Maurice Gainen (tenor saxophone), Josh Aguillar (trumpet), Arturo Velasco (trombone), Ron Affif (guitar), Michael Rosen (percussion)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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