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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Alon Yavnai

By Malachai Phelps
Published June 24, 2008

Travel Notes
ObliqSound

Numerous young lions have proven their mettle with Paquito D’Rivera, but pianist Alon Yavnai is one of the few to have won a Grammy while doing it he shared in the 2008 Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album (Funk Tango) as part of the Cuban horn legend’s quintet. The son of Argentinean and Israeli parents, Yavnai has been playing piano since the age of four, and while his technical mastery of the instrument is nothing short of phenomenal, it’s his interpretive skills as a composer and improviser that really get the blood flowing. On this impressive trio outing with bassist Omer Avital and percussionist Jamey Haddad, he explores a multi-faceted dreamworld that delivers on multiple levels, whether it’s steeped in nostalgia for home (“Bayit”) or in the serpentine rhythms of the Caribbean (“Travel Notes”). Yavnai’s commitment throughout is never in question—especially on those rare occasions when his own voice seeps through, singing along almost absently to the melodic runs of “Numi Numi (Sleep, Sleep)” and the pensive ballad “Shir Ahava Tari (Fresh Love Song).”