Dienstag, 14. Dezember 2010

Jamie Saft - A Bag of Shells

Another tzadik release from 2010 is Jamie Saft's "A Bag of Shells". Saft is a multi-instrumentalist and producer, playing everything from Guitar and Bass to organ in John Zorn's "Electric Masada" and remixing David Gould's "Adonai & I" album. Quite a prolific guy. "A Bag of Shells" is a collection of Saft's soundtrack work, made for four documentaries. From "Murderball" to "God grew tired of us" these documentaries vary greatly in content and so does the music accompanying them.
The variety of genres represented here is quite insane. The "Murderball" theme is pounding groove metal, there are several short piano pieces, acoustic guitar ballads, a lot of middle eastern folk influenced pieces, even reggae and blues songs (both with a organ as lead instrument) and a jazz trio of piano, saxophone and contrabass are featured on this album.

With the exception of "Murderball" and "Brooklyn Exile (Theme)" all songs can be described as "easy listening" music. That said the musicianship here is great and it's not boring in any way. Still it's an album nearly without any edges.
What this album delivers is an overview over Jamie Saft's variety as a composer and a musician. Though it's not challenging the mixed order of the songs still gives the album a nice dynamic flow. Also worth noting are the guest spots. Highlights include Cyro Baptista, Erik Friedlander  (accompanying Saft's piano on the beautiful, albeit short "Piano for the Masses" with his beautiful cello phrasing) and Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz from Rashanim. You won't hear any virtuoso statements here, these guys just deliver one thing:
Beautiful and fully enjoyable music.

"A Bag of Shells" is recommend for two kinds of listeners. The first being new to Jamie Saft's work and curious to get an overview over his output. The other being fans of his work and curious to hear new of his own compositions.
This record is mellow and soft, especially compared to his other records on Tzadik Records. Both "Breadcrumb Sins" and "Sovlanut" found him experimenting with electronic and noise music elements and combining these with middle-eastern vibes and jazz. "Black Shabbis" was a mixture of doom metal and middle-eastern folk music.

If you’re looking for experimentation and a healthy dose of craziness you'll be disappointed. (Except for "Brooklyn Exile (Theme)" which features an all out acoustic death metal piano blast beat fest) If you're comfortable with an album of just enjoyable tunes which work as great background music but still have enough musical substance to stand on their own, this is a record for you. Still this is a collection of some of Saft's nuances and I urge you to also experience this musician on his other records, playing out his aesthetics and strenghts on the full length of an concept album like "Sovlanut" or "Black Shabbis".

Cd time: 49:46
Cyro Baptista: Percussion
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz: Oud
Erik Friedlander: Cello
Bobby Previte: Drums
Jamie Saft: Fender Rhodes, Synthesizers, Guitars, Bass, Organs, Mellotron, Wurlitzer Electric Piano, Piano, Drums, Percussion, Programming
Vin Cin: Bass
Bill McHenry: Saxophone
Dmitriy Shnaydman: Drums
Yacouba Sissoko: Kora

Standout tracks:
My Biggest Fear 4:27
Social Security 0:50
Piano for the Masses 1:10
Job Corps 1:27
Dezert Blues 4:25

Jamie Saft on:
official website
on Tzadik Records

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