Itamar Borochov: Arba

Israeli trumpeter and band wander fluently among a variety of minor modes, adding occasional jazz inflections


2023 has been a good year for NY-based Israeli trumpeter Borochov. Having featured prominently on Uriel Herman’s masterful album Different Eyes, Borochov has followed up with an impressive project of his own. Joined by pianist Rob Clearfield, double bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Jay Sawyer, Borochov has produced in Arba his fourth full-length album as bandleader and his best album to date.

The quartet navigate an intriguing set of original compositions written by Borochov back in 2020, a year which he spent in lockdown abroad in his childhood city of Jaffa. At times meditative and lyrical, at other moments adventurous and fiery, Arba is a deeply personal reflection upon the complex themes of home, homeland and identity.

The album opens with Abraham, a modal tune with a spiritual chant-like motif that builds to an intense climax. Dirge and What Broke You? are, in contrast, sparse contemplative ballads. Here, Borochov’s ability to blend American jazz traditions and Middle Eastern musical influences is abundantly clear. His customised four-valve Monette trumpet enables him to craft fluid, microtonal lines that subtly slip in and out of the familiar sounds of jazz harmony. Evoking the melodicism of Miles Davis and possessing a wonderful tone that is at once breathy and dark, Borochov has an amazing ability to launch suddenly from soft whispers into soaring upper-octave explorations.

On Who Shall Grant Me Flight and Wabisabi, Borochov experiments with atmospheric vocals influenced by Maqamat, a traditional form of Arabic prose poetry. Avri Borochov joins on Ya Sahbi, his stringed oud providing an exotic, almost medieval, timbre. These cross-cultural fusions provide interesting contrast to the moments of more straight-ahead jazz, including the uptempo solos of Bayat Blues, the wonky, stuttered melody of Truth and the upliftingly optimistic finale Farewell. Altogether, a highly accomplished work.

Abraham; Dirge; Ya Sahbi; What Broke You?; Wabisabi; Bayat Blues; Truth; Who Shall Grant Me Flight; Farewell (48.22)
Borochov (t, v); Rob Clearfield (p, elp); Rick Rosato (b); Jay Sawyer (d); Avri Borochov (oud). Greenleaf Music, Brooklyn, New York, 13-14 April 2022.
Greenleaf Music Inc.