Omri Mor, Yosef Gutman Levitt:  Melodies Of Light

Piano, bass, cello and percussion weave western classical, African, Arabic and klezmer into a generally contemplative suite

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This album was a result of an unexpected day’s studio availability, so put together quickly. To the musicians’ credit this is not overtly apparent, although it might be responsible for the relative brevity of some tracks and that closure seems abrupt, leaving some unresolved.

The music is a hybrid, reflecting the backgrounds of Israeli pianist Omri Mor, with his Iraqi and Argentinian roots, and South African-born bassist Yosef Gutman Levitt: western classical meets African, Arabic and klezmer.

On most pieces Mor sets the pace and a pattern emerges – flowing lines which the other instruments join. Some start contemplatively, gaining momentum, then resume calmness, such as Opening, Algeria and Home. The single notes of Rain evoke its falling before the bass clouds the sky.

Others are more uptempo, such as Flight, with its Arabic feel. Sunshine has an upbeat African township rhythm which wanders into the Peanut Vendor as Mor’s lively piano increases the tempo before its sudden end. The Dunes has a recurring African motif at the beginning and end, its middle passage almost jaunty, albeit brief.

Yoed Nir’s cello, added on several tracks, gives a haunting quality in its minor key on Hamotzi, Flight, Home, where piano and cello shadow each other, and especially the short Lament.

Desert Blues is exactly that.  A down-home slow blues with decisive, forceful playing from Mor and Levitt’s bass. A guitar is present, as it is on some other tracks, though this is not credited. Possibly Lionel Loueke who was present on the preceding studio session.

The cover specifies 13 tracks, although the disc plays an extra four, all short vignettes with a distinct South African flavour, of piano just with bass and percussion. Once again brief, but delightful. The main drawback is the tonal similarity of some of the tracks – greater variation and development would help.

Discography
Opening; Hamotzi; Dance; Algeria; Flight; Rain; Desert Blues; Home; Sunshine; Outward; The Dunes; Lament; Let Me Draw Water (63.15)
Mor (p); Yoed Nir (clo); Gutman Levitt (b); Ofri Nehemya (d); Joca Perpignan (pc). Jerusalem, 2022.
Soul Song SS009