About this Recording
86004-2 -

Jazz fans are in for a big treat with this debut recording by 25 year old Hammond organist, Sam Yahel. Sam, along with the other young players on this recording, is part of the new breed of jazz musicians who have lovingly studied the jazz tradition, learned their lessons well, and are now using them as springboards in their own contemporary search for meaning.

I first heard Sam on a tape my long time friend, producer/engineer David Baker sent to me at my home in Australia. During my next visit to New York I heard Sam and his group several times at AUGIES, a small funky bar on the upper West Side, and SMALLS PARADISE, an intimate jazz spot in Greenwich Village, where my already high expectations were far surpassed. Both these rooms are places where the happening young players in New York tend to congregate, to play and listen to each other. It says a lot for Sam’s credibility and standing that he has become such a fixture on this scene. Listening to the music on this CD you’ll hear some of the reasons why.

Sam Yahel came to New York in 1990 after living in Atlanta, Israel, Germany and Russia. He graduated from The New School for Social Research Jazz and Performance program, where he currently teaches, developing his jazz chops along the way working as a sideman alongside such top players as Eddie Henderson, Don Braden etc. He is now beginning to emerge as a leader usually in a trio or quartet format and most often with the musicians heard on this recording.

Guitarist Peter Bernstein, a native New Yorker, has toured with Lou Donaldson and Joshua Redman, played duo concerts with Jim Hall and has extensive recording credits with such musicians as Larry Goldings, Walt Weiskop, Melvin Rhyne, Jesse Davis etc. Widely respected in New York city he currently has two CDs of his own released on the CrissCross label.

Joe Strasser - 24 years of age at the time of recording, moved to the city from Connecticut in 1990 when he first began playing with Sam. A drummer with a great time feel, his always swinging groove contributes enormously to the success of this recording and I’m sure we’ll be hearing much from him in the coming years.

Twenty-three year old trumpeter Ryan Kisor came to New York in 1991 after winning the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Trumpet competition in 1990. Much in demand, he has recorded and toured extensively and already has two CDs released under his own name on Columbia records.

Saxophonist Eric Alexander (who placed second in the 1991 Thelonious Monk saxophone competition) also has an extensive list of credits. Since his graduation from William Patterson College in New Jersey in 1990 he has been heard both live and on recordings, with such as Charles Earland, Harold Mabern, Etta Jones, John Patton, etc., and has five CDs as a leader currently released on CrissCross.

The music on this session is a mixture of well chosen standards plus some interesting originals. "Searchin", the title track, sets the tone with a fresh approach to a seldom heard Duke Ellington tune and great solos from everyone. "Half-Baked" features the trio and was written by ex-trio guitarist Bill Kitses. Sadly it reminds us of the loss of his developing talent through his untimely death. The beautiful ballad "Never Let Me Go", a song widely associated with pianist Bill Evans is next, followed by a bright 3/4 version of a lesser known Jobim tune, "Raining On The Rosebush". Next up is the quintet on "Suspicious Love Affair", a Sam Yahel original, featuring a scorching solo by trumpeter Ryan Kisor, then it’s back to the trio format for another piece often identified with Bill Evans, Harold Arlen’s "A Sleepin’ Bee". Another Yahel original "Hymn For Her" is next and on the last two tunes the quintet is heard playing the old standard "My Ideal" plus "Block", a funky piece that Eric came up with on the spot in the studio. Throughout the session the trio’s accompaniment and communication is outstanding and shows the kind of rapport that can only come from long hours of making music together.

Here is some fresh swinging jazz, played with a passion and maturity that belies the young age of these musicians. Enjoy!

Mike Nock

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