Albert Beger
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Albert Beger

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The best kept secret in music


"Big Mother, The New Albert Beger Quartet, Earsay Records, 2008"

The cover of Israeli saxophone player Albert Beger's Big Mother captures your attention immediately. Yinon Tubi's photos of an anonymous, depressing rubbish dump frame Beger's love cry on behalf of all mothers, a conceptual six-part suite that calls us to action before it's too late.

The new work challenges Beger, who usually opts for shorter compositions that emphasize his abilities as an improviser and his close interplay with his partners. Most noteworthy, these have included bass player William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake, with whom he recorded Evolving Silence, Vol.1 and Evolving Silence, Vol. 2 (Earsay, 2005 and 2006). This time Beger has chosen to focus on the collective qualities of his new quartet.

The line-up feature Beger's trusty bass player Gabriel Meir, and two new members, piano player Aviran Ben Naim and drummer Yoav Zohar. Naim brings a deeper dimension to the quartet with his Ellingotinian harmonic sophistication, and with well-articulated solos that contrast and comment on Beger's fiery Aylerian blowing. The muscular drumming of Zohar supplies a steady beat, and enables Meir to use extended techniques on the bass and to introduce more sounds and colors to the palette. Beger concentrates on tenor saxophone.

The suite begins with Naim introducing the dark and dramatic "The One". Beger's playing is more reserved than usual, but still intense and expressive, and the whole quartet move as a collective unit in which each player fills his role in a complex and dramatic puzzle. The following "Yellow" offers a looser framework for improvisation. Beger begins and closes with short, optimistic solos, followed by a Naim, who reflects on Beger's statements while Meir and Zohar explore different rhythmic patterns.

"Tales Of Beelzebub", a variation on G.I. Gurdjieff's famous book, Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson, is the most exciting piece here, and a highlight in Beger's recent performances. Its dramatic shifts and split-second stops, the well-built tension and the clear affinity between all members the quartet, lead to spirited solos from Beger and Naim.

Beger duets with Naim on the slow and meditative "Point Of No Return", before the two introduce "Big mother", a dark, march-like piece that revolves around Meir's inventive arco playing and Zohar's tough drumming. Beger, in his most exciting and free playing here, digs deeper into the repetitive "tribal" groove before returning to the emotional opening theme.

The concluding "The One For Hope" features Naim, who repeats the dramatic opening theme of the suite. This time around the quartet sound is more focused and perhaps more determined to suggest a belief in the power of music to inspire us to heal the ailing Big Mother. Highly recommended.

Track listing: The One; Yellow; Tales Of Beelzebub; Point Of No Return; Big Mother; The One For Hope.

Personnel: Albert Beger: tenor saxophone; Aviran Ben Naim: piano; Gabriel Meir: bass; Yoav Zohar: drums.

Published: March 03, 2008 - Eyal Hareuveni, All About Jazz

"Slava Ganelin Meets Albert Beger in Tel Aviv, 2005"

Slava Ganelin and Albert Beger
Zappa Club
Tel Aviv, Israel
November 1, 2005

The first musical meeting ever of pianist Vyacheslav (Slava) Ganelin and sax player Albert Beger was conceived by the new Israeli label, Auris Media, as part of the label's celebration of its launching. Ganelin, who resides in Israel but rarely performs here, has gained his reputation as the leader of the remarkable Ganelin Trio (with sax player Vladimir Chekasin and drummer Vladimir Tarasov), while still living in the former Soviet Union. The Ganelin Trio recorded a series of powerful live statements for Leo label two decades ago. Beger, who was brought up on the legacy of the American free jazz, is still an underrated sax player, but his recent collaboration with bass player William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake (Evolving Silence, Vol. 1, Earsay), should bring him his due recognition as an original and promising player.

Ganelin opened the evening with a brilliant solo recital on the piano and synthesizer. By now his music is much more pacified than the turbulent and dense improvisations of him while playing with the trio, but still carries the same theatrical and dramatic characteristics, and immediately identifiable. His musical language is always reflective and suggests references to Elingtonian style of composing, atonal modernism, a bit of Baroque and even folkish child songs. Ganelin keeps his left hand on the piano and reflects and comments on his abundant stream of ideas with his right hand that plays the synthesizer. Quite often he toys with a metronome and taps the piano strings, adding a nuances of irony to the mostly dark soundscapes.

Beger followed with a short set that featured his new trio with electric vertical bass player Gabriel Meir, who has accompanied Beger since his first recording ten years ago, and new drummer Israel Zohar. The trio sounded as if they have been playing together for years, tight, muscular and leaves solid base for Beger to develop his themes. Beger draws clear circular lines and than pushes and intensifies them, and with the exact dexterity of Meir and Zohar's heavy polyrhythms, the music felt assured, swinging and flowing. The set concluded with an inspired performance of one of the most beautiful songs that Beger penned, the meditative "Rain is Coming," first recorded by his quartet (Art of the Moment, NMC, 2000), and last year as an African suite with Parker and Drake.

It was clear that neither Ganelin or Beger knew much about the other's work, but that was the essence of this meeting. The duo set was led by Ganelin, who quickly encompassed Beger with a dense, multi-layered, stream of heavy clusters of chords. Beger sounded at first hesitant, even lost, but, I guess that Ganelin, as a shrewd and more experienced improviser, wanted to catch Beger off-balance. Once Beger realized that this is the name of the game, the two engaged in an intense, playful and rapid conversation, still led by Ganelin, that offered a glimpse to the great potential of this duo. Beger proved his competence as a free improv player, and Ganelin may finally have found a real musical partner in Israel, worthy of his partners from his trio's heyday.

Published: November 18, 2005 - Eyal Hareuveni, All About Jazz, 2005

"Albert Beger's 5 - Listening - Earsay Records - 2004"

On the free jazz front, the influence of Dave Holland’s Quartet’s Conference of the Birds is clear and up front, laying harmonies and melodies that are later used as terminals for improvising on and across the border of avant-garde, with atonal, sometimes out of proportion, enriching and unpredicted notes.

But despite being labeled (and marketed) as a jazz album, there are certain factors here that transfer this into being rock.

The most obvious of all is probably the violent, punching rhythm section that manages to deliver an intense beat while not compromising on creativity. Then, there’s a certain scent of classic rock – not only on the title track where you have an early 70’s sounding organ work that remains in the background while affecting the atmosphere of the whole piece, but also throughout the other album’s tracks. These two boost up even the gentle moments found here, and allow them to develop into imaginative, untamed realms.

However, that’s not all, as you can learn straight from raging opening track "What a Day," which towards its end develops into a King Crimson kind of thrash, a-la "Starless and Bible Black," with a wildly stretching guitar leading the way for a chaotic celebration, and then a furious return to the main theme.

And if for a moment, "I Was Here Before" and "Albert" lead you to believe the attack is over in favor of mellower, yet still adventurous and unexpected compositions, "Karma" will definitely set you straight: this is one track which could have fitted naturally on King Crimson’s highly acclaimed and influential 1974 album Red. If there ever was an album that managed to recreate that dark, suspended and tense atmosphere of that album, Listening is it! That alone should be enough to intrigue masses of progressive rock enthusiasts out there.

Listening is a rare album that bridges jazz sensitivity and exploration with classic progressive rock aesthetics, thematic playing with developing concepts, all in a modest way while remaining passionate and truthful throughout.
Brilliant! (10/10) - Avi Shaked

"On the verge of noise - Evolving Silence, Vol.1, 2005"

Albert Beger’s superb new album “Evolving Silence, Vol.1” reveals the underlying principles that drive all of the saxophonist’s work. It consists of two primary directives: Every new album that Beger produces has a distinctly different character than the one that preceded it – and is consistently better.

On his previous outing, Beger bolstered his basic trio format with a guitarist and an additional saxophonist, creating a group interplay with extremely high energy levels. On this latest offering, he returns to the trio format – or more accurately – the super trio format. Bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake form a virtually unsurpassable rhythm section. On the day before the recording, the two laid down a firm foundation for trumpeter Roy Campbell during his performance at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque, creating the most powerful groove that this reviewer has ever heard. Beger was a guest artist at this gig, and although he performed extremely well, was unable to navigate the storm of sound that the two created. It is, however, immediately evident upon first listening to this album, that in the recording session that followed the next day there prevailed an impressive balance among the three. As the session’s proclaimed leader, Beger even attains and sustains a status of “first-among-equals” throughout.

The first track, “Naked Truth”, is characterized by a dynamic that free-jazz musicians love to embrace: It opens with a short, simply stated (and very beautiful) melody, which quickly erupts into a musical volcano – Beger’s fire-and-brimstone saxophone riding over a torrential attack of bass and drums.

For those of you who prefer free jazz in small doses, the second cut on the album, “Duo #1”, is a welcome respite. It presents a decidedly different musical milieu than the preceding track, and we begin to see the justification for the album’s name: If “Naked Truth” serves as an exorcism of all the players’ demons – an eruption that swells up to approach the very borders of noise – the second track ensues from silence. Only two musicians perform on this fully-improvised piece: Parker plays a tense rhythmic mantra that repeats itself consistently with only slight variation; Beger trades his sax for alto flute and the occasional vocal declaration, wrapping the rhythmic skeleton in gentle and meditative ruminations. The deep mutual listening that ensues between the two is underscored as Beger punctuates his playing by tapping on his flute and Parker responds in kind on the bass.

The 42 minutes of Evolving Silence are divided into four pillars, each presenting Beger in a different form. The opening piece, “Naked Truth,” is a head-on volcanic eruption.
Beger pushes through the upper registers of the tenor sax, flying on the powerful rhythms that Parker and Drake constantly deliver. Six minutes into the piece, Beger leaves Parker and Drake to build and dismantle grooves, and then he ignites his sax again and leads into an uncompromising coda.

“Duo #2”, the album’s third track, is also an improvised duet from start to finish, this time offering interplay between Beger (returning to tenor sax) and Drake. Once again, we are witness to a whole new musical environment, one that contains elements of playfulness and humor. If the previous tracks were deep conversations, this duet is about two friends speaking informally with one another, all the while delighting in making the other laugh and enjoying the occasional friendly jibe. And Beger, who typically draws inspiration from the endless well of John Coltrane’s legacy, sounds here like the student of another exemplary player – Sonny Rollins. - Ben Shalev, Ha'aretz, 2005

"Evolving Silence, Vol. 2 - Hamid Drake, Albert Beger, William Parker, Earsay Records, 2006"

Evolving Silence, Vol. 2 follows a year after Vol. 1, which documented the first ever meeting in the studio of Israeli sax player Albert Beger and the great rhythm section of William Parker and Hamid Drake.

Like its predecessor, this album features four different perspectives: three original compositions by Beger and one free improvisation with Beger and Parker. The close musical affinity of the trio's members—and their religious, zen-like, egoless attitude—is still present, marking one of Beger's finest appearances on disc. With Parker and Drake's spiritual, modest playing and their openness and embracing compassion, there is no way but to take off. It's clear that Beger, in his body and soul, was ready for such an opportunity.

The opening track, the thirteen-minute "Evolving Silence," begins with an intense, two-minute duo segment with Parker and Drake, and only then does Beger add his percolating tenor sax and lead the trio through alternating themes. Beger leaves Parker and Drake for short, muscular interplay, and then brings this piece to a safe harbor. "Duo # 3," a free improv duet between Beger's alto flute and Parker bass, begins with Beger talking through his alto flute and ends as kind of a ceremonial tribal duet. "Funk Lacy" is indeed a sweeping rhythmic masterpiece.

The closing "Skies of Israel" is a beautiful and poetic piece that features restrained arco playing by Parker, gentle, crying lines by Beger, and spare and imaginative drumming by Drake—sounding in these painful days like a humble plea for peace and humanism, in the same vein that this great trio explores throughout. Warmly recommended. - Eyal Hareuveni, All About Jazz

"Evolving Silence, Vol. 1 - Hamid Drake, Albert Beger, William Parker, Earsay Records, 2005"

Israeli tenor saxophonist Albert Beger uses a no-nonsense blood-and-guts attack during most of this turbocharged, free-form modern jazz exposition. Beger goes toe-to-toe with two famed jazz artists, bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake, whose fluid, driving rhythms set the stage for this action-packed session. On “Naked Truth" Drake's sweeping press rolls behind Parker's briskly flowing bass lines serve as a heated foundation for Beger's jaunts into the stratosphere. Rather judiciously, they feed off each other's ideas on this collection of off-kilter funk grooves and spirited improvisation-drenched exercises.
The trio splinters off into duos on two aptly titled pieces, “Duo #1" and “Duo #2". Parker picks up the doussn'gouni (West African hunter's harp) during “Rain is Coming", where Beger's yearning lines are marked by vocal attributes. Elsewhere, Drake peppers the trio with snappy rim-shots and polyrhythmic tom-generated fills.
Beger is one of Israel's top jazz saxophonists, and his talent shines forth rather prominently on Evolving Silence. He rises to the occasion with the support of a dream rhythm section that injects the necessary ingredients, allowing the artists' respective energies to be continually redistributed. Not to be overlooked.
Published: April 10, 2006 - Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz


Big Mother - The new Albert Beger Quartet
Albert Beger (Saxophones)
Aviran Ben Naim (Piano)
Gabriel Mayer (Bass)
Yoav Zohar (Drums)
Earsay's Jazz production 2008

Evolving Silence Vol.2
Albert Beger (tenor saxophones,alto Flute)
Hamid Drake (drums and percussion)
William Parker (bass and african hunter's harp)
Earsay's Jazz production 2006

Evolving Silence Vol.1
Albert Beger (Tenor saxophones, Alto Flute)
Hamid Drake (Drums and Percussion)
William Parker (Bass and African hunter's harp)
Earsay's Jazz production 2005

Albert Beger (Tenor & Soprano Saxophones)
Yoni Silver (Alto saxophone, Bass clarinet, Organ)
Yftach Kadan (Guitar)
Gabriel Meyer (Bass)
Hagai Fershtman (Drums)
Earsay's Jazz production 2004

Hevel Havalim
Albert Beger (Tenor Saxophones, Alto Flute on "free")
Gabriel Meyer (Bass)
Hagai Fershtman (Drums and Percussion)
Earsay's Jazz production 2003

Art of the moment
Albert Beger (Tenor & Soprano Saxophones, Flute)
Menachem Zibziner (Guitar)
Amir David (drums)
Gabriel Meyer (Bass)
NMC production 2000

This Life
Albert Beger (Saxophones)
John Bostok (Keyboard)
Asaf Sirkis (Drums)
Gabriel Meyer (Bass)
NMC / Sony production 1997

The Primitive
Albert Beger (Flute & Saxophones)
John Bostok (Piano)
Asaf Sirkis (Drums)
Gabriel Meyer (Bass, Guitar)
NMC production 1995



Born in Turkey in 1959 and raised in Israel, Albert Beger’s musical sensibilities were informed from a young age by the vast cultural melting pot that surrounded him. The deeply diverse and eclectic range of sounds he heard offered a rich musical landscape upon which to draw continuing inspiration - a colorful palette of melody, harmony and rhythm that would impact his future direction as a composer and improviser.

Albert’s eclectic tastes are evident in his own compositions. Listening to his energetic, soulful pieces one hears a confluence of styles. A “World Music” that the term “world music” simply doesn’t do justice to – bebop, hard bop and free jazz, contemporary classical and ethnic music, progressive rock and electronica – delivered in an indefinable style that is pure Albert Beger. And of course there’s that sound: free of border or limitations…a spark reaching beyond to grasp the fire of the Divine …a fearless, joyful noise that embraces experimentalism and tradition, and lyricism and frenzy, with equal passion, love and respect.

Albert has spent years wood-shedding his instrument, a reflection of his penchant for self-discipline and auto-didactic study and an uncanny love for the saxophone and its seemingly endless aural possibilities. His formal education consists of a BA earned in Composition and Performance from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and a Masters in Music from the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem. He currently holds teaching positions at the Rubin Academy and Haifa University and heads the Instrument and Performance Department at Muzik School of Creation and Production in Tel Aviv.

Albert Beger has recorded eight albums of original compositions since launching his professional career in 1991. He has also collaborated on numerous projects with both local and internationally acclaimed jazz musicians, playing in a wide range of challenging improvisational settings. The long list of musicians with whom he has traded riffs both on stage and in the studio include master instrumentalists such as William Parker and Hammid Drake; Harold Rubin, Asaf Sirkis and Gabriel Meyer; John Bostock, Hagi Fershtman, and Joelle Leandre; James Newton and Roman Kontzman; and composer Eric Shapira.

Albert is the recipient of the Landau Award for Performing Arts (2005) and Israel’s highest honor for musicians, the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for Composers (2009).