Friday, August 3, 2012

Jamie Saft: New Zion Trio: Fighting Against Babylon: Veal Records, 2011


As a musician, Jamie Saft is not easy to pin down. Each of his ventures can and no doubt should be considered without comparison to any previous recording, composition, or performance for that matter.  Saft’s consistent inconsistency characterizes the breadth of his musicianship on keyboards, acoustic piano and electric guitar. Exposing unexpected contexts for well-known songs, compositions, and his own music puts him in that label-less zone that frustrates clear perceptions of him, but which also keeps him out of sedentary, stale ruts that are so often carved out by other musicians.

New Zion Trio is described on Saft’s Veal Records website as “bringing together three masters of Reggae and Jazz musics for the first time in a unique piano trio setting straight from Kingston [NY] Yard.” With Saft on piano and Fender Rhodes, Larry Grenadier on acoustic bass and Craig Santiago on drums are created a laid back, totally listenable set of tracks. Each track title has a metaphorical twist in keeping with the record’s title, Fight Against Babylon.

Nothing less than rhythmic, the music is fluid and comfortable. It varies from the serious and pensive to the most airy and pleasurable. The music is essentially timeless. Yet, swinging from one character to another, it is still one line. As keyboard artist, with great flair, Saft exercises superb fingering techniques to fill out his melodic constructions with trills, arpeggios, scalar runs or progressions. The left and right hands balance each other: there is more treble tone than bass, whether or not he plays piano, Fender Rhodes or both simultaneously, inside and out. His stellar phrasing has as much to do with his innate, acute sense of time as with the solid sonic backbone provided by the pizz phrasing and lines from bassist Grenadier or hi-hat, cymbal, stick to snare edge to skin and occasionally to tom combinations from drummer Santiago.
   
Fight Against Babylon invites and proves true the notion that Saft is a straight-forward, no bullshit musician. He can do anything he wants to and he does.

Track listing:
Slow Down Furry Dub; Niceness; The Red Dies; Gates; I hear Jah; IShense; Lost Dub; Fire Blaze.

Personnel:
Jamie Saft: piano, Fender Rhodes; Larry Grenadier: bass; Craig Santiago: drums.

copyright 2012 Lyn Horton



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