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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Omer Klein

By Jeff Tamarkin
Published June 6, 2008

Introducing Omer Klein
Smalls

Over the past few years a surge of Israeli-born jazz musicians has caused quite a buzz in New York—exemplary players such as saxophonist and clarinetist Anat Cohen, her brothers Avishai (trumpet) and Yuval (soprano sax), bassists Omer Avital and Avishai Cohen, and pianist Anat Fort have all been on the rise. To that list we can add Omer Klein—a pianist of considerable grace, style and chops. Despite the title, this is Klein’s second album, and like most New York-based Israeli jazzers, he honors his native music, implying his roots via mood and rhythm and folding in additional musical elements of the Middle East and North Africa. Most often he does so sparingly, staying firmly within the jazz milieu, but in “Netanya,” an oud (played by Avital, whose band also features Klein as a member) replaces the standard bass and keeps pace with Klein’s lyrical, fleet-fingered improv and the double-barreled drum-percussion team of Ziv Ravitz and Itamar Doan. Toward the end of the lead track “Abutbul,” Klein truly leaves the Apple for a brief visit to the Moroccan souks—just one of many vivid departures.