By Robert Ham | Published November 2018
There’s a natural desire for jazz artists to follow in the footsteps of their musical ancestors. But is the goal to just ape one’s influences or to use them as a leaping-off point?
For his latest release, Israeli-born saxophonist Eli Degibri answers those questions by landing somewhere in the middle. The album is a remake of Hank Mobley’s 1960 classic Soul Station, with the track listing shuffled a bit and an original stuck at the end to pay tribute to one of Degibri’s greatest influences. But the six songs from Mobley’s album are treated like standards, with new solos and textures introduced to recognizable melodies.
The starkest difference between the two records, though, is in how much more insistent Degibri’s playing is as compared to Mobley’s. The latter approached even the snappiest tempo with a measured calm, allowing his playing to melt over each song. Degibri goes for a more forceful approach that pops and sizzles when it should simmer.
That works best on the rendition of “If I Should Lose You,” which veers away from Mobley’s hearty swing. Elsewhere, Degibri’s playing tends to push too far into the foreground, as with the otherwise delightful title track or the speedy “Split Feelin’s,” a tune that finds the bandleader using soprano saxophone to surprisingly shrill effect.
Soul Station: Remember; This I Dig Of You; Dig Dis; If I Should Lose You; Split Feelin’s; Soul Station; Dear Hank. (38:20)
Personnel: Eli Degibri, saxophones; Tom Oren, piano; Tamir Shmerling, bass; Eviatar Slivnik, drums.