Friday, January 17, 2014

Sasi Shalom's "Moments of Eternity" - DownBeat

Sasi Shalom
Moments of Eternity

It is risky to name an artwork “Moments of Eternity.” That phrase is rarely used flatteringly but pianist Sasi Shalom does not seem particularly concerned about that. He has employed saxophonist Donny McCaslin, bassist Desmond White and drummer Antonio Sanchez to engage in his self-penned snippets of infinity, delivering a propulsive collection of original tunes that amount to an hour of straight-ahead listening.

This album is dedicated to “the children and heroes of Sandy Hook Elementary” but the record is not a maudlin meditation on loss and violence. Only a pair of the tunes out of the seven could be defined as ballads. For the most part, the record hovers in a muscular medium tempo, dishing out strong solos in a more optimistic but no less respectful tone. “Raging Bull” is an appropriately pugilistic jaunt, pushed by Sanchez’s clanging set-up. Shalom and McCaslin spit the rapidfire melody together. White and Sanchez combine for a funky platform for Shalom to dig into before White jumps into a brisk walk for McCaslin’s tenor. Finally, Sanchez gets a subdued texture for his romp, building with splashing cymbals.

McCaslin engages with his soprano saxophone on a few numbers, exploiting its reedy shriek on opener “Shari,” named after Shalom’s wife, and a soaring sprint on the titular ballad. He is in top form throughout the recording, presenting soulful calls on both horns and captivating lines in the spotlight. Sanchez and White are equally engaged, providing enthusiastic pushes at just the right time.

Not that Shalom is outshined by his bandmates. He is lifted by their efforts, presenting his tender compositions in the best possible light. His spry solos and intimate accompaniment are the soul of this recording.

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