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"All About Jazz.com Review"

David Buchbinder | Tzadik
By Dan McClenaghan

Two distinct and seemingly very different musical galaxies spin into each other on trumpeter David Buchbinder's Odessa/Havana, setting off a gravitational push-and-pull of musical momentums. It's a Cuban/Klezmer blend that stirs up the best of both musical styles--the churning, bubbling, rhythms of the mambo and the rubbery freewheeling exuberance of traditional Jewish sounds.

Canadian trumpeter/composer/band leader David Buchbinder, who leads the Juno-nominated Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, joins forces with pianist Hilario Duran, who did a nine year stint with Arturo Sandoval, on this stimulating multi-cultural outing. The ensemble sound has a sinewy richness--violin and clarinet, trumpet and oud and piano, underlain by the sometimes simmering, often boiling percussion.

The Buchbinder-penned opener, “Lailadance,” contains a bunch of bravura blowing, and a gorgeous piano solo by Duran. Duran’s “Impressiones” turns the heat up, sounding like a mini-big band, with violinist Aleksander Gajic spearing sharp lines into the flow, and multiple reedist Quinsin Nachoff injecting an element of danger to the mix with his searing tenor sax solo.

Buchbinder's “Cadiz” turns the heat down in the beginning, opening up as a melancholy lament that swells to a riotous frenzy. Duran's “Next One Rising” opens on a mellifluous groove, with Nachoff's dark wood rumination leading into Duran's bubbling fountain piano solo.

The back-and-forth between the Buchbinder and Duran-penned tunes, the ebb and flow between Jewish and Cuban and the inevitable mix of the two musical cultures, the swirling reed/trumpet/string mix blowing and bowing over the beautiful clutter of percussion, makes for a uniquely uplifting listening experience.

Track Listing: Lailadance; Impresiones; Cadiz; Next One Rising; Rumba Judia; Prayer; Colaboracion; Freylekhs Tumbao.

Personnel: David Buchbinder: trumpet; Hilario Duran: piano; Qunsin Nachoff: reeds, flute; Aleksander Gajic: violin; Luis Guerra: piano; Mark Kelso: drums; Rick Shadrach: percussion; Dafnis Prieto: drums; Jorges Luis "Papiosco" Torres: percussion; Roberto Occhipinti: bass.

- All About Jazz.com By Dan McClenaghan

"AllMusic.com Review"

by Thom Jurek
**** 1/2

The reason for the introduction is as a point of reference for this knockout recording by trumpeter/composer David Buchbinder and pianist/composer Hilario Durán, who take the world of klezmer and the world of Latin music and try to find where the seemingly wide seams come together. One need only listen to the phrasing, pace, and minor key melodies of some of klezmer to see its commonalities with Latin music. But what has been accomplished here is nothing short of remarkable. Buchbinder wrote four tunes, Durán, three, and they co-wrote another. The ensemble, made of their two instruments, bassist Roberto Occipinti, conguero Jorge Luis Torres, violinist Aleksander Gajic, saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff, Rick Lazar on dumbek and other percussion, and alternating drummers Mark Kelso and Dafnis Prieto, makes for a very adventurous and highly skilled ensemble. It appears that the place where these two traditions meet, according to Buchbinder note in the booklet, was in medieval Moorish Spain and is filtered through the Jewish mambo craze of the 1950s. The evidence for this is in the first cut, where the beautiful bulgur meets the mambo and becomes something of a wild whirl of klezmerish salsa that swings like mad with a sultry nocturnal joy in "Liala Dance." To be honest, just this tune is an accomplishment; they could have stopped right here. The complete interweaving of these two musics, neither giving up a shred of its individual identity in the process, is quite literally stunning. Likewise, Durán's "Impresiones," with its son montuno introduction, is moved via violin and tenor saxophone toward the jazzier side of Yiddish folk music, with its beautiful modalities and chromatic spectrum. Rhythms cross and blend, and time becomes spacious and utterly flexible in this world. Durán's harmonic vamps are breathtaking. The most haunting and beautiful tune on the set is "Cadiz" by Buchbinder. Its droning introduction fills space with the longing of the diasporas of the two, from Al-Andalus in Spain to Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and parts west and south the conquistadors traveled, and from Spain to other parts of Europe, where Jews became inseparable from the various landscapes and cultures they entered and, in some cases, transformed. Musically "Cadiz" is a powerhouse of a suite because its wailing Balkanized klezmer hora dancing structure meets the beautiful son folk form and then grafts itself across the montuno and back to the Balkans. The set closes with the killer "Freylehks Tumbao" by Durán. Virtually everything from both traditions is embodied here and is given articulation not only in the habanera rhythms but the beautiful Bulgarian wedding dance charge of the brass, reed, and violin. Odessa/Havana is an utterly brilliant and deeply moving collaboration that gives an entirely new meaning to the term "world fusion." It acknowledges openly the root sources that these two long traditions evolved out of and now inform one another. What makes this possible -- perhaps -- is the union of these two forms in present-day jazz, which has always been the great equalizer, and here becomes the ambassador for these two long separate traditions to converse in; not only of the past, but of the present and future as well. Odessa/Havana is one of the great jazz records of 2007. - All Music.com

"Jewish Week"


JEWISH WEEK July 26, 2008

An Edgy Crossover Sound

by Eric Herschthal

Three years ago, the Jewish label Reboot Stereophonic re-released Irving Fields' "Bagels and Bongos," a forgotten recording from 1959. The album placed vintage Yiddish songs over simple Latin rhythms, an idea logical enough given the numbers of northern Jews flocking to Miami Beach. In its first release, "Bagels and Bongos" sold more than two million copies. The cultural crossover continued into the '60s, with the Puerto Rican

salsa bandleader Joe Quijano giving a once-over to the "Fiddler On the Roof" soundtrack. (Reboot re-released that album, too.) Both re-releases were covered in the Jewish press a few years back, but the albums never caught on.

Maybe David Buchbinder's new, more forward-thinking project that brings together Jewish and Latin sounds will. Or should. Buchbinder is a

Canadian trumpeter and klezmer revivalist, and his combination of

klezmer and Afro-Cuban jazz offers something very different from "Bagels and Bongos." As an exercise in cultural cross-pollination, it's edgier than Fields or Quijano and thus feels less gimmicky.

In place of nostalgic, wan Yiddish tunes ("Havannah Negila" was one of Irving Fields' hits), Buchbinder composed new pieces with the Cuban emigre pianist Hilario Duran, who also lives in Canada. The result was the CD "Odessa/Havana," which debuted late last year on John Zorn's Radical Jewish Culture series. The rhythm section was complex yet effortlessly propulsive, a reminder that Latin jazz needn't loose any of its swing as it rubs shoulders with Jewish music. Buchbinder made sure the klezmer swung too, with his kaleidoscopic riffs on the trumpet. With the help of a violinist and clarinetist, the Jewish heritage was unmistakable.

On a recent Sunday night, Buchbinder came to Drom, a basement club in the East Village. It was a bit disappointing that no one else from the seven-piece band that recorded the CD made the gig. (It's expensive to travel; plus, Duran is Cuban.) Yet in both sets, the stand-ins didn't miss a beat. "Lailadance," which Buchbinder said he named after his daughter, had a hip-twisting, mid-tempo rhythm that Buchbinder's trumpet skipped, weaved and scaled around and over. A couple more rumba-inflected songs, layered with jagged violin riffs and a few high-wire clarinet solos, had the band rolling. When they played the album's hauntingly Arabic-sounding "Cadiz," by far the most original, mysterious and alluring tune on the CD, the audience was rapt. If "Odessa/Havana" occasionally amounts to kitsch - on "Prayer," for instance, or "Freylekhs Tumbao" - it isn't for lack of an otherwise admirable originality throughout. And that should matter, even if it isn't always successful, or it doesn't sell millions. - Eric Herschthal

"Jazzwise Magazine"

Jazzwise Magazine


David Buchbinder Odessa/Havana

Tzadik TZ 8121 I * * * *

David Buchbinder (t), Qulnsln flachoH (n, \$, cl, bel), lilarlo Duran, Luis GuerrJ (p), Aleksander Gaile (vIn), John Gzomkl (oud), Roberto Dcchlplntl (b), Mark Kelso, DaIM PrIeto (d), RIck Shadl'ach, Jorges l.J.H 'Paplosco' Torres (perc), dr\I11t and percussion. Ret. 2007

To mix eastern European klezmer with Afro-Cuban music played by top-notch improvisers makes musical sense; and this is a fusion that is pulled off with flair by Canadian trumpeter David

Buchbinder. Largely played by a cast of Canadian jazzers and Afro-Cuban based players (notably pianist Hilario Duran

and bass player Roberto Occhipinti), Odessa/Havana sizzles with up-beat originality. Like drummer Michael Stephans' recent collision of Jewish traditions with the music of John

Coltrane, this is an innovative and fresh sounding project. The jauntiness of the opener, Buchbinder's 'Lailadance' starts the record on a high; while the broody 'Next One Rising' makes for serious, gritty improvisation. OurEm, stretches the piano dazzlingly to its limits, but Occhipinti's thoughtful bass playing and the bass clarinet and tenor playing of Quinsin Nachoff offer earthier listening. Big, brassy arrangements bring a downtown New York quality to the

music, which also touches on Arabic, gypsy and Sephardic influences. Meanwhile, violinist Aleksander Gajic's violin emphasizes the Cuban folklore references on OurEm's percussion-heavy 'Rumba Judia' to make the record quite a melting pot. Buchbinder, no slouch himself in the trumpet department, calls his fusion a "mash-up" but there is nothing random about the record's success. Tom Barlow - Tom Barlow


http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/reviews/57871 /david-buchbinder-odessa-havana/

by Will Layman

Boy-o-boy do I hate the term "world music". There is something mushy about the term (isn't all music,

well, ... "world" music?), and there is certainly something mushy-gushy about much music marketed with that term-Peruvian flutes and droning synthesizers, that kind of thing. Somewhere along the line, "world music" started to mean "charming, soothing, and non-offensive sounds from other cultures." Blech! It is as if the term "world cheese" meant Velveeta. I want some Roquefort or Italian Fontina!

And that's why Odessa/Havana tastes so good.

This project on John Zorn's Tzadik label is credited to Canadian trumpeter/composer David Buchbinder. It consists of a sparks-flying collaboration between Buchbinder and Cuban pianist/composer Hilario Duran (recently based on Toronto)-a seamless blend of Jewish klezmer music and Afro-Cuban music that manages to retain both traditions even as it sounds like something wholly new. In the end, of course, Odessa/ Havana most resembles a jazz recording: rich in polyrhythm, improvisation, collaboration, and cultural overlap.

The band that Buchbinder and Duran have put together mines the natural overlap between salsa and klezmer. In addition to piano and trumpet, the band includes saxophone (Ouinsin Natchoff), violin (Aleksander Gajic), congas (Jorge Luis Torres), dumbek and other hand percussion (Rick Lazar), and drum kit (Mark Kelso or Dafnis Prieto). The composition credits are split nearly down the middle, with four Duran tunes, three by Buchbinder, and one collaboration. But the surprise is that the tunes do not follow type-Duran's "Freylekhs Tumbao" sounds primarily klezmer-ish while Buchbinder's "Lailadance" is driven by a hip montuno and decidedly Latin percussion groove. This is music, to use Duke Ellington's lovely phrase, "beyond category".

Most of the songs here, however, achieve a unique balance between the two types. Though "Lailadance"

is driven by an Afro-Cuban rhythm, the contour of the minor melody and the voicing of the instruments evoke Eastern European yearning as certainly as can be. On Duran's "Impresiones", the two worlds lock together like puzzle pieces and inspire extremely hot solos from Natchoff and Duran. "Rumba Judia" starts with a

massive percussion workout, then it moves into a snapping jazz head and a violin solo over Latin piano vamp. The fiddle drips with klezmer tonality even as the groove percolates like Spanish Harlem itself. It is a combination as pleasing as it is natural.

Some of the finest music on Odessa/Havana is slower and more contemplative. "Prayer" begins with a melody articulated on acoustic bass, then shifted to trumpet, then to violin and bass in unison, then to a whining soprano saxophone. The tune is mournful and blues-drenched but in a different way. "Cadiz" is even more compelling, with a droning beginning that slowly builds with the horns and violin harmonizing over the piano and then a gradual build-up to a dancing groove that allows for lines that bring out bebop feeling, salsa fire, and Jewish hope. The tenor solo here is restless and unique-roiling like Coltrane but utterly original because of the mixture of contexts.

The tune written by both Buchbinder and Duran is, of course, "Colaboracion", and it has the most jazz punch. The violin solo looks most intelligently at the song, and Buchbinder's trumpet solo sounds like Freddie Hubbard unleashed on a hip Latin chart. This is, for me, the unwritten secret of the Tzadik series of recordings. While the disc-art is festooned with the Star of David and label trumpets a Jewish aesthetic, it all still comes back to jazz. "Jazz" is a word that arguable means less and less each year, but the concept still suggests that American music can be a creative pot into which many varied ingredients can contribute to a sound that is constantly improved by openness to the new or the "other". Odessa/Havana is certainly that.

In the end, it's music like this that feeds jazz and keeps jazz fresh. The players here come from different places and different traditions, but they bring it all into a music that asks them each to listen carefully and take some chances. It sounds like at least three different cultures at once, which is to say that it sounds a whole lot like the U.S.-like one terrific Manhattan block.

If you love "world music"-make that just music-that gets the blood to boil, then OdessalHavana is a disc to catch up with.

RATING: 8/10

May 7,2008 - Will Layman

"The New York Jewish Week"

The New York Jewish Week

Between Odessa And Havana

The latest twist in David Buchbinder's crossover career has him exploring the Afro-Cuban/Jewish connection.

by George Robinson

Special To The Jewish Week

You can't plan a career like David Buchbinder's. You don't plan on dropping music when you're in your teens, then picking it back up in your 20s and making a living as a trumpeter. You don't plan on founding one of the first "New Klezmer" bands in Canada after hearing the music for the first time at age 25, and you certainly don't plan on that band surviving for more than two decades. You don't plan on playing with a salsa band in Germany (who would?), or having that band transform many years later, into an acclaimed album that merges Latin and Jewish rhythms into a seamless blend with bop and post-bop jazz.

That kind of stuff just happens.

Well, maybe not to you or me, but it has happened to Buchbinder, the 48-year-old founder of the Flying Bulgars, and leader on the Tzadik album "Odessa/Havana." This Sunday (June 8) at Drom, he celebrates the official release of "Odessa/Havana" with the New York premiere of the band from that recording.

Buchbinder certainly has the jazz pedigree, geographically at the very least. "I was born in Kansas City, but when I was 9 months old, my family moved to St. Louis, then in 1969 we moved to Toronto," he relates. "Moving here [to Toronto, where he still lives] was a huge dislocation, and my music and participation in team sports ended for a while."

His post-adolescent search took him to a kibbutz and then to university, but he remained unsatisfied until he realized that it was music that was calling him. At 20, he "put [his] head down and started to practice."

But music by itself was only part of the artistic equation for Buchbinder.

"My parents were politically active and my brother [filmmaker Amnon Buchbinder] and I were exposed to a lot of cultural things that were going on," he says. "In St. Louis, that meant the Black Artists Group, people like [pioneering free jazz players] Oliver Lake and Julius Hemphill. My parents took us to 'happenings' and to concerts, and there was always an element of street theater in those performances. For me it has always been about the combination of music and spectacle in the street, about music as a participatory experience with the audience. I prefer it when there's a feeling that we're creating together."

That vision of music-as-theater carried over when he was asked to serve as artistic director of the Ashkenaz Festival, a celebration of East European Jewish culture in Toronto, a position he held until 2001.

"I didn't want it to be just another festival in which one band played a set, to be followed by another, and another," he says. "I wanted it to be a mind-altering experience."

By that time, he had already begun altering minds about klezmer with the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band (now playing as the Flying Bulgars), only the second "new klez" group in Canada (preceded by Finjan). Like many of the revivalists, Buchbinder had the modalities of Yiddish music in his bloodstream, put there by years of synagogue-going, but klezmer itself was

a sort of lost continent that could only be explored through recordings. He listened to the Klezmer Conservatory Band and Kapelye and their contemporaries. And he had an epiphany while playing with a salsa band in Germany, suddenly connecting the Jewish modes to their distant Latino relations.

"The nexus is medieval Spain," he asserts.

"That's where you have the crossing of paths leading to Africa, to the New World and to the rest of Europe. You even have Sephardic Jews turning up in Eastern Europe, where they must have communicated some of their musical heritage to the Ashkenazim."

When he was asked to play the Jewish wedding of a friend of his brother, he pulled together a group of like-minded musicians, wrote down what he had heard on the new klezmer records and they let fly.

"We were learning the stuff as we were playing it, the hardest kind of on-the-job training you can imagine," he says with a laugh. "But we were amazed by the intensity of people's response to the music."

In the meantime, Buchbinder was also pursuing a jazz career, studying with ex-Ellington trumpeter Freddie Stone who was another artist experimenting with open forms. In a roundabout way, that led him back to the thought that AfroCuban and Jewish music aren't all that far apart.

"Odessa/ Havana came out of that, from exploring new sources of compositional

material," he explains. "The whole Afro-Cuban/ Jewish relationship was on my mind. The Bulgars experimented with it a few times in live gigs, but I realized I needed somebody from the other side because it's such a heavy musical tradition. There's no point for b.s.ing your way through it. [Cuban pianist-com poser-arranger ] Hilario Duran and I were both nominated for a JUNO [the Canadian equiv - Between Odessa And Havana


Everything. All the time.

Buchbinder does that Afro-Cuban/Klezmer thing

Buchbinder finds common ground in disparate sounds

A You might think Afro-Cuban V music and Jewish klezmer tunes from Eastern Europe were poles apart. But Toronto trumpeter David Buchbinder has dedicated much of the past 18 months to examining the many commonalities he's found between the two traditions, working with ace Cuban-Canadian pianist Hilario Duran and a hot septet of Hogtown's leading jazz players.

Buchbinder's recently released album Odessa/Havana breaks fresh ground in contemporary cross-cultural music. But while the project is new, its roots are old.

"I first heard salsa over 20 years ago, when I was living in Germany as a street musician," Buchbinder recalls, on the line from his home. "I really got into playing the music and loved it. At this point r d never heard klezmer, but I was aware of some connections with Jewish music through what I'd heard in synagogues and in my parents' record collection. Salsa sounded like a rhythmically sophisticated version of something very homey."

Soon afterward Buchbinder discovered klezmer and founded the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, in which he continues to play, Instinctively, he gave the songs he was performing a subtle Afro-Cuban feel, but it would be many years before he took things further.

"Hilario and I only met to play together at the 2006 Juno celebrations, where we were both nominated in the contemporary-jazz category," Buchbinder says. "We played some of my

original jazz compositions for CBC broadcasts and at a concert, and I really enjoyed his musical openness. r d done some experiments before with the FBKB and Cuban percussionists, and it was interesting but a bit half-baked. I realized that to do this properly I had to have someone writing and playing from the other side. With Hilario it all came together fast. We composed the first chunk of music in August last year before our first concert, recorded those tunes, then wrote and put down the rest earlier this rear."

Buchbinder is credited with three of the eight compositions on Odessa/Havana, Duran has four, and there's one joint creation, entitled simply "Colaboraci6n". The longest and most elaborate cut, "Cadiz", is the trumpeter's investigation, in the language of contemporary jazz and world music, of ancient links between Jewish and Cuban traditions.

"There were already African influences in Spain 2,000 years ago, and possibly Hebraic influences too, because the port of Cadiz was founded by the Phoenicians, a Semitic people," Buchbinder explains. "Following the Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula [in the eighth century] there was a flourishing of Jewish, Islamic, and North African culture there, with much cross-fertilization. And after the Christians eventually regained Spain and threw out the Muslims and the Jews, a minority ofJews ended up in Poland, Romania, and Ukraine, places where klezmer developed.

"Going in the other direction, the conquistadors and most colonists came to Cuba from Andalusia, and not long afterwards brought slaves over from Africa:' he continues. "There are elements in Cuban music dearly influenced by Arabic music. I explore those connections in 'Cadiz: When you look at the confluence of all those things, it seems to me to explain the compatibility we've found between the musics. That said, we're creating a hybrid from them that's completely original-and very exciting to play."


David Buchbinder plays the Norman Rothstein Theatre on Sunday (December 2).

Source URL:

http://www.straight.com/arti cl e-1203 28/buchbinder -does-that-afio-cuban-klezmer -thing - Buchbinder does that Afro-Cuban/Klezmer thing



April 2008


David Buchbinder Odessa/Havana lZADIK8121


The sum doesn't have to be greater than the parts for the result to be satisfying. That's what occurs with Odessa/Havana's creative collusion of Jewish and Cuban music styles as Canadian trumpeter David Buchbinder and Cuban emigre pianist Hilario Durin fmd common ground and build upon it.

The band presents a unified approach that proudly displays its individual, and surprisingly compatible, components. The edgy energy of klezmer lines and the supple elasticity of AfroCuban rhythms carry only distant echoes of their shared ancestry, one often incorporating minor modalities, but their kindred spirit and evolved sensibilities shine through on Odessa/Havana.

The playing is impeccable. Buchbinder and Duran are agile and aggressive soloists, and clarinetist/saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff and violinist Aleksander Gajic perform admirably in demanding situations. The energetic rhythm section makes the music work, deftly mixing and matching the internal subdivisions of compound time in one style with the multitextured polyrhythms of the other.

The album's most ambitious and extended

track is its most representative. Buchbinder's "Cadiz," living up to its namesake city as the meeting ground of the two cultures, showcases each style before fusing them to create a new style. "Impresiones," with violin and trumpet intertwining, and the percussive romp "Rumba Judia" join Buchbinder's meditation

"Prayer" as highlights.

The cross-cultural collaboration is an ethnomusicologist's delight, but the overly analytical will miss the point, as well as much of the excitement and entertainment, if they fixate on the music's archival past instead of its present and future possibilities. A tune like Dunln's "Freylekhs Tumbao," featuring a joyous hora dancing over a tumbao rhythm, is a considerable compositional accomplishment and a solid sonic shot of festive fun. That is the true value of Odessa/Havana, a project devoted not to academia but instead to popularizing a revitalized take on traditional styles. -Michael Point

Odessa/Havana. Lailadance; Impresiorles; COOiz; Next One Rising; Rurrba Jude; Prayer; CoIaboraci6n; Freylekhs Tumbao. (49:58) Personnel: David Buchbinder, trumpet; Hilario Duran, piano; Ouinsin Nachoff, reeds, flute; Aleksander Gajic, violin; Luis Guerra, piano; Mark Kelso, drums; Rick Shadrach Lazar, percussion; Dafnis Prieto, drums; Jorges Luis "Papiosco" Torres, percussion; Roberto Occhipinti, bass; John Gzowski, cud. - April 2008 Reviews

"The Jewish Advocate"



A new release from a jazz master 'OdessalHavana' soars into the musical stratosphere By Jules Becker - Monday July 28 2008

Imagine hora and rumba joining forces with jazz and improv in a musical odyssey that explores common ground as well as new shores. Canadian Jewish trumpeter-composer David Buchbinder and collaborating pianist Hilario Duran have achieved that kind of Jewish-Cuban fusion with exciting results in their recently released CD "Odessa/Havana."

Ranging from klezmer and Jewish traditional influences to Cuban, African and even Arabic ones, their richly rhythmic album transcends cultural differences in an album that proves short in length (only eight pieces and about 50 minutes) but long on musical insight and inspiration. Where Ferdinand and Isabella expelled Spain's Jews and condemned their beliefs in 1492, "Odessa/ Havana" embraces the spiritual as well as musical affinities between Judaism and Iberian traditions.

This Jewish/Cuban musical mash-up (the subtitle identification of the recording) opens with Buchbinder's style-combining "Lailadance." Here Duran's Spanish piano entry is followed by Buchbinder's klezmer-influenced trumpet. Shortly after Quinsin Nachoff joins in on flute, and eventually the rest of the ensemble join in-notably Roberto Occhipinti on bass. At some moments here and throughout the album distinct musical heritages kick in while at others the distinctive sounds overlap to create striking new combinations.

By contrast, Duran's own "Impresiones" relies

largely on improvisation and makes considerable use of the group's percussionists as well as the composer's elegant solo work. Throughout this very different pair and the other six compositions on the album, all 10 musicians, whether alone or together, display impeccable timing, crack technique and rich tone.

The longest and arguably the best offering on "Odessa/Havana" is "Cadiz," the remarkably varied third. Composer Buchbinder has this smartly paced near 1 O-minute work begin with a purposely slow and reflective trumpet-dominated first half, complemented by equally Middle Eastern strains on Aleksander Gajic's violin. Where Spanish piano and saxophone styles (the latter from Nachoff) then kick in, the clever "Cadiz" ultimately returns to the evocative earlier motif, which may tie in with the title Andalusian city's on again-off again prominence through the centuries as a port.

Buchbinder's plaintive if much shorter Uust over four minutes long) "Prayer" stands as another envelope-pushing dynamics-rich composition. After a crisp bass opening, trumpet and violin passages ensue. Later still, the bass recurs, to be followed by a stunning soprano sax stretch and a service-evoking trumpet sequence as the spiritual component of the piece reaches its high point. Here and in "Cadiz" Buchbinder stamps himself a composer of both versatility and vision.

Duran exhibits vision of his own in bringing together Cuban and Jewish material on his "Rumba Judia." Starting with an unrelenting drum solo that is joined by vibrant Latin percussion, this generally fastmoving piece still finds time for a violin solo that attains the spiritual intensity of a Chassidic melody. On his "Next One Rising," Duran combines jazzy routines for trumpet and bass. The percussion motif here, though somewhat conventional, is satisfyingly lyrical.

Coltrane bravura and the sonorous grandeur of a Duke Ellington suite come to mind with the composers' "Colaboracion." A playful violin solo may be particularly gratifying to Stephane Grappelli fans. In true ensemble fashion, this second-longest piece moves through sharp piano, trumpet and percussion segments as well.

The most joyous cut is the closing "Freylekhs Tumbao" Making smart use of Bulgarian wedding dance rhythms, this rollicking winner will probably have high energy listeners standing up and moving to its mix of habanera and klezmer passages. As its vivid title and expressive musicians suggest, the time has come for merrymaking and shaking up the status quo with celebrating. Rounding out the inspired ensemble of performers on this distinctive CD are Luis Gerra on Piano, Jorge Luis "Papiosco" Torres and Rick Shadrach Lazar on percussion and Mark Kelso on drums.

Buchbinder, with more than 20 years of performing and composing with such groups as his own David Buchbinder Ensemble and the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, has solidly stamped himself a cultural inventor with his synthesis of Jewish, Arabic, Cuban and North African musical styles and motifs. "Odessa/ Havana," a stunning endorsement of his and Duran's inspired explorations, is itself a cause for celebration.

- Monday July 28, 2008


Odessa/Havana released its debut CD (on the Tzadik label) in November of 2007 to great critical and audience acclaim, including being named the #1 Jazz CD of 2007 by Toronto Life and Allmusic.com.



There is beautiful music here, along with ferocity and no small amount of fun. Failure to respond is virtually impossible.” -Buffalo News

Odessa/Havana is a high-powered collision of two great musical styles predated but not predicted by the Jewish-fueled, American Mambo craze of the 1950s. Working from the roots of each tradition and finding many areas of sonic commonality, Buchbinder and co-composer Hilario Durán have crafted a sound that is exciting, fresh and compelling as it challenges listeners' comfortable genre preconceptions.

While the cities and cultures of Odessa and Havana might seem many miles apart, their musical
associations are many-faceted, multi-layered and rich indeed; rooted in their common ancestry on the Iberian peninsula and sharing Arabic, Roma (Gypsy), Sephardic and North African for bearers. The two musics already share haunting minor modalities, improvisatory flourishes, a strong rhythmic drive and deeply spiritual underpinnings. Buchbinder and Durán's compositions explore these commonalities as they break new ground, creating a truly unprecedented sound. And both musical traditions have long since proven their suitability for creative adaptation, serving as a kind of “raw material” for musical development (Latin jazz, modern klezmer/“Radical Jewish Culture”). Odessa/Havana is also emblematic of what might be termed post-multicultural creation, something that is increasingly happening in Canada's major urban centres as mature musicians from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds meet, collaborate and create new sounds that transcend countries and cultures of origin. It is no coincidence that Odessa/Havana was born in downtown Toronto, where there is so much natural experimentation occurring.

Odessa/Havana is “a genuine hybrid, strongly flavoured by Russian-Jewish modality and Afro-Cuban rhythms, but with those strands so strongly intertwined as to seem inextricable.” - Globe & Mail

The musicians of Odessa/Havana: Along with Buchbinder, Odessa/Havana includes the some of the most sizzling musicians in the country: Luis Guerra (piano), Paco Luviano (bass), John Johnson (reeds), Max Senitt (drums), Aleksandar Gajic (violin), and Rick Shadrach Lazar (percussion). Featured as a guest on the recording and at times in performance is Grammy-nominated, Cuban drumming great, Dafnis Prieto. (Hilario Durán is on the recording but not part of the touring unit.) This is an ensemble of incredible, award-winning instrumentalists, bandleaders, producers and educators whose performing, producing and compositional credits read like a Who’s Who of the international World jazz and pop scene.

For the latest info about Odessa/Havana please visit: www.odessahavana.com or www.myspace.com/odessahavana. Also visit www.davidbuchbinder.ca