Sam Yahel

From Sun to Sun

origin 82596

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Nate Chinen, New York Times

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During the final stretch of "From Sun to Sun" (Origin), his adept, engaging new album, the keyboardist Sam Yahel offers a glimpse of what might have been. Downhill-skiing through a pair of songbook standards ? "So in Love" and "Taking a Chance on Love," linked by an interlude with a classical tinge ? he plays crisply over fast-swinging rhythm, the picture of mainstream post-bop piano excellence.

Which is disconcerting only in context. Mr. Yahel, who shifted core allegiance from the piano to the Hammond B-3 organ 20 years ago, has never seemed like this sort of musician, so tidily proficient, so stoic. Elsewhere on the album, in fact, he isn't. (Phew.) His original compositions are songlike but often slyly episodic and always deft with groove. He knows how high to set the bar for his band mates, the bassist Matt Penman and the drummer Jochen Rueckert. They negotiate "Saba" at first in a skittering quintuple meter, with an octave-etched melody; then they pull back, slow down and deflate, before snapping back into gear. It works like a magic trick, as does the Sweet Tart blend of organ and piano on Mr. Yahel's title track, which feels both peppy and mysterious. Why should he have to choose?








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