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World Music CD Reviews North American

CARDAMON QUARTET

By Tom Jackson
Published January 24, 2006

Reflections Of The Road
Folk Dune

Making a living in jazz usually means working more than one job. So when New York-based, Israeli-born pianist and accordionist Uri Sharlin isn’t accompanying Mercury Award-winning torch-singer Antony, or playing with Arabic ensemble Ayyoub or Harel Shachel’s Anistar nonet, he leads his own four-piece. Drawing on pan-Mediterranean inspirations, the Cardamon Quartet play a kind of piano-led jazz that is highly listenable: Harel Schachel’s clarinet swoops in and out, while Sharlin’s piano provides an insistent rhythmic and chordal swell underneath. A particular highlight is “El Ginat Egoz,” where guest percussionists add oriental rhythms to Sharlin’s accordion. The playing by all group members is solid throughout, particularly the delicate touches on the lovely “Yesh Li Kineret,” which features charming clarinet and accordion interplay. But something, maybe the smoothness of the arrangement or too much control in the solos, leaves the record as a whole sounding playful and light, but lacking the magnetism to grab the listener. It leaves the impression that perhaps this is music to accompany the delicate sipping of cocktails, rather than intent listening.