Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Ehud Ettun: “Deep In The Mountains” (2019) CD Review

Every day I need an antidote for the poison being issued forth from our nation’s capital. We all do. A daily dose of humanity is necessary to combat the racism and mean-spiritedness of the man pretending to be president and of his horrid little followers who seem to have permanently cast off whatever better qualities they may have once possessed. It is impossible to remain unaffected by the toxic fumes rising from the White House. So, as to not become infected by them, we look for a remedy, something that possesses the opposite qualities in order to neutralize the effects. I find it in conversation with friends, in physical connections, and in music. And it flows in abundance throughout the tracks that make up Deep In The Mountains, the new release from bassist Ehud Ettun. Joining him on this album are Daniel Schwarzwald on piano and Nathan Blankett on drums. Some of the material they choose to present here will be familiar to you, tunes such as “Old Devil Moon” and “It Could Happen To You,” which are given a fresh life. There is also some original material, composed by Ehud Ettun.

The disc opens with a delightful rendition of “Secret Love,” written by Sammy Fain. This track works like a gentle embrace, full of love, full of kindness, just what the world needs. The bass and the piano seem to be engaged in a playful romance. That’s followed by Ray Noble’s “Cherokee.” There is a gentle spirit to this track as well. At its center is a wonderful lead on bass. There’s a loose vibe to this one that seems to say that the world is a good place, with great diversity but a common passion. Ehud Ettun then delivers a cheerful and exciting rendition of “Old Devil Moon.” I particularly like Nathan’s work on drums here. The track seems to bubble and pop, like it’s cooking in some great big pot out in the hills, surrounded by dancing sprites and nymphs, which Daniel’s lead on piano seems to represent. Wonderful stuff here. Things settle just a bit leading to Ehud’s lead on bass.

“Deep In The Mountains,” the album’s title track and one of its original compositions, has a thrilling vibe right from its start, with that great work on bass. This track then takes us on a journey, seeming to breathe with us, relaxing when we need it, then pushing forward, onward and upward, rising to heights, then pausing to look out at the beauty below, a beauty that is pulsing with life, a beauty that moves. This is one of my personal favorites. It’s followed by “Alfonsina Y El Mar,” a beautiful piece written by Ariel Ramirez, played with tenderness and heart, particularly that lead on piano, which is powerful at moments. We then get a truly fun and totally enjoyable rendition of “It Could Happen To You,” each of the musicians grooving and cooking. Ah yes, listening to this track makes me think it will happen to us all. “Arirang” has a sweet vibe. It is a Korean folk song, and it affects us in that place that all the great folk songs do, speaking to something timeless within us. “Arirang” features more wonderful work on bass, though the piano seems to be the heart of this track. That’s followed by a thoughtful rendition of Leonard Bernstein’s “Some Other Time” (written for On The Town), which then builds wonderfully.

We then get more original material, beginning with “Matcha Green,” which gets off to a great start with drums. Then the piano and bass dance along at a quick clip. This track is a total delight, and I’d be shocked if it failed to bring a smile to your face. It has a lot of character. That’s followed by “Keep Calm.” I have to remind myself several times a day to calm down, and this track seems to acknowledge both the need to keep one’s calm, and also the reasons why it might be difficult to do so. It has a calming quality at times, then moves to busier sections where one feels a need to rush along, getting caught up in that ceaseless river of activity and drama. The disc then concludes with “Stork.” I find it rather funny that even now in my forties, the word “stork” immediately conjures thoughts of babies, particularly cartoon images of babies being delivered. This is a lively number that finds its own peaks and valleys, but never settles, and features an excellent lead on bass.

CD Track List
  1. Secret Love
  2. Cherokee
  3. Old Devil Moon
  4. Deep In The Mountains
  5. Alfonsina Y El Mar
  6. It Could Happen To You
  7. Arirang
  8. Some Other Time
  9. Matcha Green
  10. Keep Calm
  11. Stork 
Deep In The Mountains was released on May 1, 2019 on Internal Compass Records.

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