Yaron Herman Trio
Recorded, mixed and mastered at Studio That Sound.
Acoustic pianist Yaron Herman's introspective music has its moments of outspoken brilliance, energy bursts, and classical or Jewish heritage spilling into each other, although for the most part he keeps things relatively segregated in parsed segments. Each piece has its own identity, which makes it difficult for the category choosers to give him an overall sound print. Three selections do border on the chamber side of jazz with the complementary Quatuor Ebene string quartet, while the trio sides range from harder edged and jumpy lines to more beautiful, reverential elements. Drummer Gerald Cleaver is the perfect person to navigate all of these styles, while bassist Matt Brewer is always there, underneath the covers of this music, probing and prodding the note clusters or sage musings of the pianist, and contributes two compositions of his own. Not quite as thorny as the Bad Plus, but rivaling the stylistic carvings of Fahir Atakoglu, Aaron Parks, or even Keith Jarrett at times, Herman speaks firmly of his experience through music, perhaps in many instances parenthetically or paradoxically. The pianist is quite capable of frenetic activity, as heard during the imaginative "Vertigo" or heavily accented "Twins," where he approaches the intellectual pyrotechnics of Eldar Djangirov or Vijay Iyer. Then there's a lighter side via the waltz take of Dizzy Gillespie's famous "Con Alma," the slower, dark, and deliberate ballad of Brewer's "Joya," or the solo "Lu Yehi" which sounds like a Jewish prayer. The rambling "Lamidbar" is propelled by Cleaver's rolling drumming, a two-note bass ostinato, and Herman's free piano discourse, while "Perpetua" is quite similar to a Mahavishnu Orchestra signature stair step, circular line that never ends, ascends, nor descends in its mystery and intrigue. The string ensemble is used with utmost taste and elegance, especially on the title track, in a pretty but solemn emotion, while a version of Bjork's "Isobel" contrasts tromping beats with delicate piano similar to the late Esbjorn Svensson's trio. You hear contemporary music to sing praises of, and sounds that spark curiosity as to the whys and wherefores of its being. Herman's liner notes try to explain that the music speaks for itself, then attempts to justify why. Perhaps it is that ethereal, elusive, inexplicable quality that transfers the aural plane into art without qualifiers. It's just a suggestion that this recording should be listened to completely in silence, sans outside distractions and chatter, for the music indeed has a language all its own, and stands up proudly.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
I've often been asked why I don't write any text in the booklets with my records. I think it stems from an intimate conviction that music doesn't need words be presented or described.
Music is in essence a subtle yet explosive mixture of intellectual rigour (composition, improvisation, complexity and form) and emotional depth (related to its expression). In the specific case of improvisation I would add the essential part played by physical gesture, as totally inseparable from the two previous elements, since it is the real-time physical accomplishment of an interior mental process.
When we use words to describe this creative process, I always feel that we never manage to express things precisely. How can one describe an emotion or a sound with words? We could turn to poetry but music already possesses a poetry that transcends words.
It is because of the limits of language that I have always preferred to let the music speak for itself. What brings me to write to you now, therefore, is the desire to tell you the story behind this trio and the album you are holding.
For two years now, I've had the pleasure of touring around the world with two exceptional musicians. I met Gerald Cleaver in New York where we briefly shared an apartment. We quickly discovered that we had the same approach to the creative process and I immediately felt that we would work well together both musically and on a more human level. I'd had a chance to admire his work, as a composer with different groups, and the really personal way he treats rhythm and sound. He is one of the most original and versatile drummers of today. He constantly strives to reach the essence of the music and gives it an extremely creative form which makes him an extraordinary musical partner, always surprising.
I feel the same about Matt Brewer, whom I first came across in that virtual jungle "myspace". He was an incredible find! Matt has one of the finest double bass sounds that I have ever heard - it's immediately identifiable. His way of playing when he accompanies a solist or during his own solos shows a unique treatment of melody and rhythm and reveals an unusual depth of construction and continuity. He is also an excellent composer as will become apparent when you listen to "Joya" or "And the rain".
From the very first time we played together I realized the potential of our trio. When we recorded "A Time for Everything" we hadn't yet performed together. Matt and Gerald had heard of each other but hadn't yet played together. We set off into unknown territory and were delighted with the result but at the same time we wondered how our music would develop after months on tour.
The year that followed allowed us to get to know each other better and as the tour progressed we felt that the music took on a different dimension and intensified with each concert - which were never the same. All three of us consider that the real essence of jazz is not: "playing it safe" but rather by going further into the music each time. This has allowed us to find our own universe and a personal sound.
The music for this album was essentially composed on the road. In planes, trains, hotel rooms and some cafes. In my mind it's directly linked with travelling - while on the road your frame of mind changes. You don't see the same things nor see things the same way. You are freed from the regular constraints of time and therefore you look at what you are going through in a different way.
A Quote by the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein suggests that "If we consider eternity not as infinite time but as the absence of time then he who lives in the present lives in eternity".
The improviser's quest is particularly paradoxical since jazz and more especially improvisation is by definition a music of the present (composed and performed in realtime) which aims to touch eternity. Each moment is unique and will never repeat itself which requires an acute level of awareness. The artist has to find the seeds of eternity which lay hidden in these fleeting moments. Sincerity becomes essential.
Improvisation can allow us to experience those magical moments when time disappears and we contemplate something which is intimately linked with the present but which also touches infinity. Something eternal, perpetual, that in reality has always existed.
The time outside fades away like in a journey and all that's left is the music. As Charlie Parker said: "Now's the time". It is this never-ending search we have been engaged in on this album.
I warned you that I expressed myself much better with my piano!
I can only wish that wherever you are my music will enable you to share (be it only for an instant) what we feel when we play - the pleasure of the absence of time.
- Joanna Martin Forst