DogCat Ensemble
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DogCat Ensemble

Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Brooklyn, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band World Jazz

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TheCelebrityCafe.com, CD Review >>

Uri Sharlin and the Dogcat Ensemble’s 'Back to the Woods'

By Sari N. Kent, 1/22/2014

Author Rating:

4.0 Stars - Very Good

Uri Sharlin and the Dogcat Ensemble’s debut album titled Back to the Woods released on Dune Folk Records, brings an unconventional instrument to the forefront while blending conservative jazz elements. Tel Aviv native Sharlin had originally planned to make this album 15 years ago when he was set to move to New York to study jazz piano. It was in 2008 that the Uri Sharlin and the Dogcat Ensemble was formed, consisting of Sharlin playing the Siwa and Figli accordions along with the piano; Matt Darriau on bass clarinet, Gili Sharett on the bassoon, Kyle Sanna on the guitars, Jordan Scannella on bass, Rich Stein and John Hadfield on percussion with special guests Itai Kriss on the flute and auto flute, Ze Mauricio on the Pandeiro and Michael Lavalle on the Zabumba.

The album’s opening track titled “Night Swim,” begins with Sanna’s guitar play then segues into Sharlin’s masterful accordion play. The speed and preciseness with which he hits each note could make listeners think Sharlin was born to play the obscure instrument. The track has a playful tone, which could make listeners envision going for a midnight dip with this song in the background. Hadfield and Stein’s percussion can be heard in the background and Sharlin often goes quick then fades out with his accordion play, maybe musically signifying a frantic swim? Sanna also get a solo mixed in which lightens the track’s mood a tad.

“One for Frankie,” the third track on the album, opens with Darriau’s soft bass clarinet play and Hadfield’s tender percussion in the background. Then, Sharlin’s accordion enters the melody along with Sharett’s noticeable bassoon work. Sharlin’s quick play along with Sharett’s bassoon makes for somber yet catchy melody. Then, Sanna’s guitar sneaks in giving the song an unexpected rock vibe.

In the fourth track, “DIA #342,” Sharett’s bassoon takes center stage in the intro as Hadfield’s deep percussion work in the background adds to the track’s serious tone. Then, Darriau’s bass clarinet comes in along with Scannella’s bass. The repetitious melody is broken up by Sharlin’s accordion play about ¼ into the track.

“Mundau by Night,” the seventh track on the album, has an ominous beginning that could be at the start of a thriller motion picture. Sharlin plays piano against the windswept sound that pervades the background of the track. Special guest Kriss shines with his stellar flute work, as both his notes and Sharlin’s piano notes linger and then fade off adding to the shady vibe of the track. The addition of Sharett’s booming bassoon play only adds to the profound melody making its title seem very appropriate.

The ninth track on Back to the Woods titled “Baiao” features two of the other special guests on the album, Ze Mauricio on the Pandeiro, a popular Brazilian hand frame drum and Michael Lavalle on the Zabumba, a type of bass drum used in Brazilian music. The track opens with a jaunty, upbeat, danceable beat as Sharlin lets loose on his accordion while Kriss’ flute play can be heard faintly in the background. Mauricio and Lavalle take over the fast-paced percussion as listeners could envision hearing this track on the next season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

All in all, Uri Sharlin and the Dogcat Ensemble’s debut album Back to the Woods fuses an unusual musical apparatus in with conventional jazz implements to make distinct tracks that are sure to delight jazz fans who are looking for some variety in their music. - TheCelebrityCafe.com


Uri Sharlin is one of the first-call accordionists in several New York scenes, from folk to jazz to Balkan music. This evening he and his jazz-inclined Balkan/Brazilian band the DogCat Ensemble played an energetic, dynamic set of instrumentals at the Lincoln Center atrium from their forthcoming album Back to the Woods (which is available now if you go to one of their shows) . True to Balkan tradition, the Israel-born Sharlin loves rhythms that are considered exotic in the west: the group would do a couple of bars in twelve, then they’d sneak one in eleven instead. He also has a passion for south-of-the equator sounds, the most exotic of these being Monte Verde, a jungly Costa Rican rainforest tableau that the band opened and then closed on a droll note, playing birdcalls on little whistles, Sharlin leading the band into a warmly tropical theme with washes of chords from his accordion.

He has chops that can be spectacular, but in this band he leaves the pyrotechnics to the rest of the group. Matt Darriau’s sizzling, apprehensively trilling first solo on clarinet on the moodily pulsing, nuevo tango-inflected encore, Night Swim, was one of them, bassoonist Gili Sharett maintaining the suspense and tension as he took the handoff. Guitarist Kyla Sanna lit up the opening theme, another tango-inflected tune set to a trickily dancing rhythm, with a long solo that rose from edgy jangle to knife’s-edge intensity. Bassist Jordan Scannella would occasionally swoop up into a brief cloudburst of chords when he wasn’t providing a fat pulse in tandem with drummer John Hadfield and percussionist Rich Stein, who alternated between a couple of boomy clay pots (and soloed on them at one point during the lively, sunny, tropical Don Quixote), shakers and a big standup tapan bass drum.

The group took a couple of diversions into tersely playful free jazz on a version of Brazilian multi-instrumentalist composer Hermeto Pascoal’s Dia #342, then flew into darker Balkan terrain on the wings of Darriau’s bass clarinet and Sanna’s guitar on One for Frankie. They took vivid daytime and nighttime snapshots of a balmy, mellow northern Brazilian seaside town, Mundau, first with Sanna leading the way, calm and methodical on acoustic guitar, then with Sharlin switching to piano for an allusively furtive, jazzier nocturne that picked up steam as it went along. The catchiest tune of the night was The Real DogCat, a somber roots reggae tune set to yet another odd tempo with dub-like effects from the percussion toward the end. They ended the set with a joyously dancing, bubbly Brazilian tune, Baio, the drummer swinging a clave beat, bassoon paired off against the bass clarinet and guest Itai Kriss’ flute all the way up to a droll trick ending. All of these songs are on the album, which has a similarly energetic, live sound; Sharlin’s next gig is at Barbes on Oct 23 at 8 with classical mandolinist Avi Avital. - New York Music Daily


Discography

Uri Sharlin and the DogCat Ensemble  Back to the Woods (FolkDune002) Released : 2013 (distributed in N.America by NAXOS)

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Bio

Led by accordion virtuoso Uri Sharlin, the DogCat Ensemble takes the audience on a musical journey through dream-like images and landscapes in a sizzling presentation of new and original compositions blending jazz and classical influences with Balkan rhythms, Arabic modes and Brazilian harmonies. After performing on the world's most prestigious stages with the San Francisco Symphony, Natalie Merchant, Flight of the Conchords and others, Sharlin, together with an all-star ensemble, brings forth an innovative vision which features classical instruments, rock guitars and unique homemade percussion.

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