Listen to this debut album from Israeli saxophonist Idit Shner and one thing leaps out at you: the muscularity. Shner's tone is strong and confident, whether she is stating a melody or busting out alone. On "Yellow Moon," the opener, her solo is more of an announcement ?I HAVE ARRIVED! ?recalling prime Michael Brecker or Maceo Parker. The impression is helped by the rest of her take-no-prisoners quartet; Steve Pruitt whacks the hell out of those drums and cymbals, Stefan Karlsson hits a block chord and a nimble solo with the same brash energy and Mike League's bass playing is always sensitive and occasionally spectacular.
Standouts abound. The title track is fast and happy-sounding ? not the kind of thing most people are doing these days, and welcome for that reason. "Ha Lachma" is even more relentless, aggressive soul-jazz with drum'n'bass fills from Pruitt. They can slow it down, too ? this version of Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks" is nine minutes of tricksy slowburn veering off into fractal patterns at its fringes.
Some of these songs are not quite as successful, but that doesn't mean they can be written off. "Elisheva Doll" is adorable post-bop that goes not much of anyplace until Karlsson's fascinating noodlings bring some integrity to the proceedings. The lengthy "Adon Haselichot" takes its sweet time to get where it's going, but the free-jazz madness that busts out in its second half, with Pruitt whacking everything in sight, makes it a worthwhile journey. Shner makes a brave choice by ending with a three-minute solo piece, but it's riveting, and proves that she doesn't need a band to hold the listener's attention.
This debut album from Shner ? who now lives and teaches in Oregon ? is confident and assured. She is bringing a welcome liveliness to post-bop jazz, something many of her young colleagues would do well to emulate.