Monday, July 8, 2013

Yoron Israel High Standards: Visions

 A Tribute to the Music of Stevie Wonder
To me, it's about touching people, making a difference (quote: Yoron Israel)
Hans Koert

Yoron Israel is a Chicagoan drummer who is active since the 1980s …. He studied music at the Roosevelt University of Chicago (1986) and  Rutger’s University of New Brunswick (NJ) in 1997. He debuted at a 1987 recording by vibraphone player Jay Hoggard who recorded for Muse with a quartet featuring a young Benny Green too. 

Yoron Israel ( photo courtesy: Eric Antoniou)

In his career, which spans now more than 25 years, the names of musicians he recorded with, read as a encyclopedia of modern jazz: What to think about a selection I found on his website: Kenny Burrell, Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, Abbey Lincoln, Ahmad Jamal, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Clark Terry, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutchinson, Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Heath, Cedar Walton, Grover Washington, Freddie Cole, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Pharoah Sanders, David "Fathead" Newman, Red Holloway, Larry Coryell, Doctor Lonnie Smith, Bennie Wallace, Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell, Vanessa Rubin, Kevin Mahogany, Roy Hargrove, Bill Mays, James Williams, Cyrus Chestnut and Joshua Redman …….    Isn't that impressive?

It's a pity that his name is rather unknown in this part of the world. I found a great film fragment in which he can heard playing with the Jim Hall  / Joe Lovano Quartet ( In a Sentimental Mood) ( 1996)

His first album under his own name seems to be a 1996 recording which wasn’t released widely after it was made, but re-released in 2006 as A Gift For You with pianist James Williams who passed away almost ten years ago. The albums he recorded in 1999 and 2003 under his own name, entitled Chicago, with Larry Goldings and Basic Traneing, with Kyle Koehler at the organs, fit well with Yoron’s drumming, but on his latest album Visions you won’t find any organ at all. Yoron Israel latest album, Visions, which he recorded last year, honors the music of Stevie Wonder.

Yoron Israel High Standards: Visions ( Y13072)

  • Stevland Hardaway Morris, born in May 1950, known as Stevie Wonder, isn’t a jazz musician at all, but a soul, R & B, singer-song writer – one of the most prominent figures in popular music during the latter half of the 20th century ……  But, as Yoron proves on his album Visions, Stevie Wonder’s compositions are true jazz  .. with inherent swing and groove.
Yoron proves this with his group High Standard, which features some skilled jazz musicians like saxophone player Lance Bryant, who was the musical director of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra during the 1990s; the Hungarian born Laszio Gardony at the keys, who lives in the States since the early 1980s  and bass player Ron Mahdi. Guitarist and harmonica player Thaddeus Hogarth is added on two of the ten tracks, just like Larry Roland, who recites his poem Visions.

Yoron Israel ( photo courtesy: Eric Antoniou)
Yoron selected ten original Stevie Wonder compositions, like the well known 1973 hit You Are The Sunshine of My Life, arranged by pianist Laszio Gardony.
The album is called after Stevie Wonder’s composition Visions which was released at his album 1974 album Innervisions.
  • It is hard to select the most fascinating track from this album as they are all great … but the samba based 1974 Stevie Wonder composition Bird of Paradise belongs to my favorites.
I found another lengthy film fragment in which Yoron Israel plays the percussion as part of the Sonny Rollins Sextet at a European tour in 1992 playing Long Ago and Far Away, to learn Yoron's bird ..... 

A great album by a great High Standards Quartet, which lives upon its name reputation, which should be in your collection.  A rather unknown sideman in this part of the world, but a sought after percussionist in the States, which needs further recognition in Europe .....   Find yourself a copy.

Hans Koert
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To me, it's about touching people, making a difference .... If they hear something that makes them smile, that's what it's all about. Healing comes through that. Yoron Israel, US drummer, recently released a jazz album entitled Visions, dedicated to the music of Rhythm and Blues star Stevie Wonder ... whose compositions are jazz compositions .... Yoron states. A great album of a rather unknown sideman in this part of the world, which needs further recognition in Europe .....  but a sought after percussionist overseas.
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