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Album Review: 'Augmented Reality' by Roy Assaf, Ronen Itzik, and Jorge Roeder

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Augmented Reality Trio
Courtesy of Daywood Drive Records
Pianist Roy Assaf, drummer Ronen Itzik, and bassist Jorge Roeder have been kicking around New York for several years, but Augmented Reality (Daywood Drive), is their first effort as a trio. The piano trio holds a high place in the history of jazz, and has been well-represented recently with celebrated albums by Vijay Iyer, Dan Tepfer, Fred Hersch, and several others. Augmented Reality carves out a distinct path in an area of jazz with such a high volume of traffic.

The strand that ties together the tracks on Augmented Reality is not any particular style or high-minded concept, but rather a focus on melody. Whether it’s an Assaf original like “Ohel Israel,” the Benny Carter piece “Only Trust Your Heart,” or the Richie Beirach song “Leaving,” each piece grows out of a melody that lends itself well to being sung or whistled. Jettisoning angularity, Assaf, Itzik, and Roeder mine for moods, reserving intensity for choice moments.

“Sphere,” an original by Itzik, stands out for its samba-tinged propulsion, and for its expanded sonic palette, accented with Assaf’s use of the reedy, breath-powered Melodica. Another highlight is Assaf’s “Sepharadic,” whose classical harmony stirs agitatedly, and erupts with rock-inspired force. On “Only Trust Your Heart,” the trio swings lightheartedly, and Roeder improvises lithely and with a voice-like facility.

Augmented Reality is lush and yet subtle, and with a range of stylistic influences, it achieves a sophisticated, understated presence. It is exciting to imagine how the music will sound as the band grows more seasoned around it, begins to take bigger risks while continuing to use melody as its inspiration.

Release Date:

May 24th, 2011 on Daywood Drive Records

Personnel:

  • Roy Assaf – Piano
  • Ronen Itzik – Drums
  • Jorge Roeder – Bass

Track List:

  1. Tabacon
  2. Alphonzia y el Mar
  3. Sphere
  4. Morning of Sorrow
  5. Sepharadic
  6. Stone and Sun
  7. Only Trust Your Heart
  8. Ohel Israel
  9. Dry Tear
  10. Un-
  11. Leaving
  12. Budva
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