AVI ROTHBARD TRIO/City Colors: Whether kicking it out on his own originals or adding his special sauce to some well-chosen covers, this guitar ace finds the sweet spot that any jazz guitar fan will gravitate to. A tasty set throughout, he’s got the knack for making it look and sound too easy. A solid listening date that’s sure to command your attention, it’s on the money throughout and a good bet to spend some quality time with...
"Rothbard has a patient way with a phrase, a confident time feel and solid, tasteful chops."
Twin Song on Midlantic records from guitarist Avi Rothbard presents solid hard-bop/soul-jazz in the standard organ-trio configuration. With updated harmonies, this still echoes back to a time the country was dotted with clubs that had Hammond organs (when guitarists like George Benson, Kenny Burrell, and Grant Green toured with Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, and Dr. Lonnie Smith). Rothbard's Twin Song swings with 9 mostly upbeat, original compositions. Twin Song features the musicianship of Avi Rothbard on guitar, Jared Gold on Hammond B3 Organ, and Joe Strasser on drums Wayne Escoffery makes a guest appearance on Tenor Sax.
Rothbard has developed a style firmly rooted within the American jazz guitar mainstream. One can hear the influences of Wes Montgomery filtered through Joe Pass, Grant Green and George Benson in his playing.
Twin Song is clearly a showcase for Rothbard's considerable talent (both as a guitarist and composer), but this group is performing as a cohesive unit and each musician is given opportunities to shine on this album. Organist Jared Gold has the chops and evokes the late great Larry Young with his great post-bop harmonies and voicings. Joe Strasser swinging as ever and Wayne Escoffery provides some stunning solos on Tenor.
Rothbard, a '98 Berklee graduate, asserts his bona fide credentials with this recording, which works within the classic guitar/organ/drums genre, but also goes beyond.
With a little help from organist Jared Gold and drummer Joe Strasser, the guitarist opens with an up-tempo burner that is very much in the mode of a funky sermonette from the soul-jazz pulpit. Part of the young Israeli's education in America occurred not just in rarified classrooms, but also in steamy Harlem nightspots where the music absolutely has to cook.
Aside from soulful signifying, Rothbard has a number of tricks up his sleeve, including a 5/4 ballad, a 6/8 swinger and a flag-waving modal piece sparked with crackling unison guitar/organ passages.
There are other seasonings pops up in three bright cameos by tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, a former protégé of jazz legend and Hartford resident Jackie McLean.
Though the trio is fine and mellow, Escoffery's rich tenor lends it a little extra sonic gravitas rooted in groove and grit.
Guitarist Avi Rothbard takes a refreshing and earthy approach on this trio and quartet recording. The leader, who was born on the Israeli kibbutz Gan Shmuel and trained at Boston's Berklee College of Music, is deep into updating a chitlin-circuit sound here.
The quartet works up a froth on nine Rothbard originals that span both the sweet and rocking sides of soul jazz. The session projects some arthouse overtones, but the effect is pleasantly primal at times, as on the opening stomper, “Preach's Inches.”
Rothbard is more complementary than flamboyant as a soloist. He plays to make the band better, not preside over it. Organist Jared Gold and drummer Joe Strasser fine heft in the leader's tunes, which are reasonable most of the time, if not particularly memorable. Tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery makes some airy cameos.
One yearns at times for some clarifying soul, but at least Rothbard's aim is to entertain as much as mystify.
Nice to see a Joe Pass homage movement underway. The second set in recent days that reminds us of Pass, here we find Rothbard delivering his fourth self released date showing himself in top form. With a lounge set card in tow, he shines throughout letting the music speak for itself but adding some flourishes and variety that gives it a flow and spark that demands your attention as it delivers something new to say and adds a new viewpoint to some well-worn grooves. Solo guitar fans will recognize this as the real deal. Hot, in a low keyway.
Any lover of Guitar-Organ trios will find this album very satisfying. Rothbard preserves the traditional stylistic elements that make this format work so well and adds his own contemporary ideas on top of catchy memorable compositions to create a unique blend.
Israeli guitarist Avi Rothbard has caught on to American idioms quite successfully. His sound has the clarity and "ping" of most bop-influenced jazz guitarists, with a liquid, bluesy overlay that makes him an effective leader of what's usually called the organ trio (guitar-organ-drums).
"Preach's Inches" has an upbeat gospel orientation, and it's typical of Rothbard's rapport with organist Jared Gold and drummer Joe Strasser in a tightly wound threesome. "Five Corners" is the most innovative composition, as guest saxophonist Wayne Escoffery contributes both judiciously and meatily to the trio texture.
"Cheerleader" sounds like an R&B ballad waiting for a lyric, and Gold's soupy accompaniment doesn't help. But the guitar melody is fetching, and a good theme likewise carries a much different piece, "Triad," with its vigorous organ and guitar soloing. Rothbard's facility and imagination are most concentrated in "Minor Impact," which also offers the best evidence of Gold's commanding bass line on the pedalboard.
Avi Rothbard, originally from Israel, has been making his way through the New York jazz scene for the past few years and this is his second release with Midlantic Records. His compositions are both stylistically and technically superb and his guitar playing is equally brilliant. Building from, but not limiting himself to, classic style and form, he is able to take his music in many new directions. This collection showcases the multi-dimensionality of Rothbard's acumen as a composer and jazz musician. The arrangements are tight and precise, but overflowing in exuberance and creative exploration.
Veronica Timpanelli ( JazzReview.com®)
"Of the many organ trio releases that have popped out over the past few years, Twin Song deserves a place in the front rank it's that good”.
"Rothbard's compositions are fully realized and clever, while at the same time retaining their emotional center. It is a joy to hear the interplay between the musicians. Twin Song is an excellent CD"
All About Jazz New York
- “Twin Song is A very solid effort by Israeli born musician, guitarist Avi Rothbard. his organ trio is rooted in mainstream playing, but with modern awareness.
Neil Tesser(“Listen Here!” Jazz review)
- “Going Somewhere-” A forward-looking guitarist with hip
Zan Stewart(Jazziz Magazine)
“Guitar /Organ/drums trio taken clean and crisp turns afresh face.
They give “ Just One Of Those Things’ a sideways harmonic glance and ring true on Billy Strayhorn’s “ A Flower Is A lovesome Thing”.
“He and his collogues consistently provide an enjoyable body of music, Rothbard begins to truly show himself as more than an assemblage of influences. Rothbard spins off single notes with speed and alacrity.”
Twin Song features Rothbard, organist Jared Gold, drummer Joe Strasser, and the great young saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, in a series of original compositions which deftly unite soulful grooves with a progressive musical approach."
Louisville Music News
Guitarist Avi Rothbard, born in Israel and, since 1999, a mover and shaker in New York City, enjoys a distinguished career as a jazz performer and clinician. Sadly, his time in the studio has been intermittent at best. City Colors, his fifth leader date in 15 years, is his fullest résumé on record. Rothbard is a multifaceted player who is comfortable across a spectrum of genres, handling each with equal respect.
Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" begins the proceedings with a lushness that is remarkable for a guitar trio. Bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Darrell Green swing organically throughout, unafraid to shift things obliquely whenever the mood so requires. Rothbard tells a story in the first few strums, and from those unravels a convincing plot. His soloing, too, has a narrative quality to it that shows a musician who approaches his out-loud thinking with care. He also excels at the understated swing with which he pulls off Tony Williams's "Lawra." This tune's negative spaces and occasional leaps make it an instructive example of keeping your ego in check—something not so easy to do when caught in the groove. But Rothbard plants his feet firmly in the theme and opts for branches over wings. Jerry Lordan's popular "Apache," more than ever, feels like something out of a Quentin Tarantino love story. Rothbard handles its harmonies with surety, sidewinding his way across barren lands where no boots have tread except for those of the lone cowboy who knows he is outnumbered. It is a tumbleweed untangled and laid end to end toward a blazing horizon.
Another of Rothbard's talents is arranging popular songs, and in this case "Bennie and the Jets" fits the bill and then some. The guitarist cites Elton John as his first true musical idol, and it shows in the present rendition, which sands the rougher edges of the original in ways that make the familiar new again.
Yet the album's heart lies in Rothbard's originals, all of which are three-dimensional and well-dressed. While "Smoke Screen" also draws on the popular canon (in this case Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water"), his writing stands out for its structural integrity. Between the funkier propulsions of "Before Noon Comes" and the soulful affection of "Maya's Waltz" (dedicated to his daughter), melodies and modes reveal the true breadth of his playing. "See Walk" is the album's kingly highlight for showing a bandleader who isn't afraid to unleash his creativity in poetry rather than prose. Rothbard owns this one from beginning to end, but always with a sensitivity that commands even as it soothes.
Track Listing: Baker Street; Before Noon Comes; Lawra; Maya’s Waltz; Apache; Bennie and the Jets; See Walk; Smoke Screen.
Personnel: Avi Rothbard: guitar; Vicente Archer: bass; Darrell Green: drums.
All About Jazz
You rarely get the treat of a solo guitar record with such a pristine focus on fresh melodic statements and searching but logical harmonic underpinning as this one. But that’s what Avi Rothbard offers in “Standard Solo Guitar Sketch.”
There is one original among the 11 tunes, an acceptably personalized blues. Otherwise, there are such extended joys as “The Way You Look Tonight” and a more compact, but still exploratory version of “Too Close for Comfort.”
The guitar sound has a clean-scrubbed but sensuous feeling and despite the understated nature of a disc of standards like this, there’s no doubt that Rothbard knows how to swing and can bring his own kind of intensity to every piece he puts his mind to."
Jay Harvey(Indiana Star)
"Nice to see a Joe Pass homage movement underway. The second set in recent days that reminds us of Pass, here we find Rothbard delivering his fourth self released date showing himself in top form. With a lounge set card in tow, he shines throughout letting the music speak for itself but adding some flourishes and variety that gives it a flow and spark that demands your attention as it delivers something new to say and adds a new viewpoint to some well-worn grooves. Solo guitar fans will recognize this as the real deal. Hot, in a low key way."
Chris Spector(MIDWEST RECORD)
"The title pretty much describes the contents. This is a set of solo guitar pieces played in a springy, forceful style by Avi Rothbard equally split between pop and Jazz standards with one of his original compositions thrown in.
The Jazz pieces catch your ear first mainly because they haven’t been done to death in this format. Rothbard slows down the normally fast “Giant Steps” and “500 Miles High,” really dissecting and improvising on the melodies. He does mellow bluesy riffing on “Pannonica” and his own “Storage Blue” is an insinuating boppish line worked out on acoustic guitar. As for the standards you’d need to listen several times to differentiate him from someone like Joe Pass, but “Too Close For Comfort” has a nice twirling swing to it and works up steam in the soloing sections."