The release of A Handful Of Changes," which builds upon the success of Ari Erev's previous CD About Time," shows the progress and continued musical evolution of Erev, who, in his native Israel, has developed into a top jazz pianist and composer. My music has evolved during the past few years," says Ari. The new CD combines the intimate, delicate and emotional style heard in my first album with some more energetic and Latin-oriented performances." While About Time" showcased Ari Erev?s playing in a trio, A Handful Of Changes" features the pianist in settings ranging from a duet to a sextet with two saxophonists. The musicians on the set fit perfectly the Latin touch of the album. Tenor-saxophonist Joel Frahm, an American based in New York, is a major musician who provides a lot of fire to the date. Bassist Arie Volinez and drummer Eitan Itzcovich are notable not only as great musicians but as influential educators in Israel. New York-based bassist Tal Ronen plays bass on three of the songs. Percussionist Gilad Dobrecky has worked with Ari on a project of jazz interpretations of Cuban and Mexican songs. Ari credits him with substantial contribution to the Latin influence of the project. A special guest is Ofer Shapiro who plays alto on Precious Present" and clarinet on Light In Your Window."
The program opens with Open Possibilities," a driving piece for the quintet. The energetic, Latin-tinged music gives one the impression that it can go in any spontaneous direction. Frahm displays a passionate tone, Erev's improvisation has a strong forward momentum, and Dorbecky's percussion adds excitement to the piece. Irit's Wave" is dedicated to Ari's wife. The lyrical jazz waltz has Erev and Frahm making personal statements. Step By Step" has a haunting feel, is memorable enough to possibly become a standard in the future, and features Frahm's heated soprano. Kshe'Or Dolek Ba'Halonekh" (which in English translates to Light In Your Window") is one of two songs on this set by composer Alexander Argov. While he is not considered a Jazz" composer," says Ari, his use of advanced harmonies always intrigued me. Ofer Shapiro's clarinet solo is particularly special.
Chopin's Prelude in E Minor Op. 28, No. 4," leads into the similar sounding standard So In Love," a fine showcase for the rhythm section. Erev's Simple Melody" has a pretty theme that Frahm sings through his tenor. The complex harmonies challenge the soloists and give the song a great deal of substance. Of Precious Present," Ari says, Time is a precious present and no moment should be wasted. The night before the recording, my daughter had a car accident but was fortunately not hurt. That too was a precious present, the luck that we had." This Brazilian-flavored piece features the full sextet with Shapiro's alto and Frahm's soprano blending together perfectly; both take lively solos. The standard For All We Know" is a slow ballad interlude given a heartfelt and very emotional treatment by the duo of Joel Frahm and Ari Erev. Transformation" gives Erev and Frahm opportunities to solo over both 5/4 and 4/4 time and they swing with creativity Me'Ever La'Tkhelet" is a melodic piece that showcases the trio and features interplay by Erev, Ronen and Itzcovich that is worthy of the Bill Evans Trio. The set concludes with On Second Thought," a superior workout for Frahm on soprano with the trio.