PABLO EMBON – Harmony Tales

PEM 2020

PABLO EMBON –
Harmonic Tales

Israeli multi-instrumentalist makes a nuanced, yet oftentimes too sweet, statement – restricted to jazz yet given many a flavor.

After three and a half decades of ploughing a fusion furrow, any artist must be known to a wide audience, but Pablo Embon’s oeuvre is still cherished mostly by the genre aficionados, although this album can alter his status. Born in Argentina and situated on the fringe of Negev, the veteran prefers accessibility to a high-brow sophistication, without ever sacrificing complex figures to simple edifices – and not because he plays everything himself: there’s enough virtuoso passages to satisfy a discerning ear – but Pablo’s pieces are harmlessly charming and intellectual at the same time.

Setting things in motion here, “Vintage Lover” will offer a summer-breeze jazz-rock which feels almost frivolous when its lacy frills – woven into an exquisite acoustic cobweb – hint at blues only to go on a tangent towards a tasty improv and pass the notes to scintillating ivories that take the track further afield before returning its enhanced harmonies to a six-string motherlode, all trimmed with an elastic bass and a trad-jazz piano. The latter is possessed with a swinging panache in “Nothing Is Left Behind” and “Calling Out” whose barely-there elegance may seem compromised once the very tangible guitar lines are stretched across their light landscape, yet there’s an orchestral elegy laid down for the listener to roam and admire, while “For The Ones You Love” has bossa nova married to a fiddle-driven drama.

The new-age-tinged raga in “Song Of India” rolls out a superficial thrill, though, the number’s motorik moments groovy but not quite riveting and, despite alluring arrangement, the Chopin-ish “My Little Magic Box” fails to open its tuneful potential, unlike “Our Times” where organ moves display affectionate swagger. Apart from that, what’s been magnetic in the album’s beginning becomes increasingly less interesting, the music’s pull dulled by its dulcet mood, “Too Far, Too Close” struggling to strike a balance in terms of reaching for adventure, which the remix of Embon’s 2009 keyboard cut “The Best Of Me” is proposing in a much simpler manner. Still, the results are rather pleasant – ready-made for new converts to the fusion cause and the style connoisseurs alike.

***4/5

July 16, 2020

Category(s): Reviews
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