4 Stars Jazzwise Review by Stuart Nicholson
Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble
Gilad Atzmon (as; ss; cl; acc; g; v); Frank Harrison (p; key; v); Yaron Stavi b; el b; v); Chris Higginbottom (d; v); guests Tali Atzmon, Antonio Feola (v).
The Whistleblower succeeds in consolidating the sometimes competing aspects of Gilad Atzmon’s musical personality into a more complete, unified artistic statement than was apparent on several of his previous albums. On “Gaza Mon Amour” he successfully combines Middle Eastern flavours with the ethos of the two key influences on his jazz style, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, that was explored to profound effect on 2003’s Exile and pieces like “Al-Quds.” The six laments — “Forever,” “The Romantic Church,” “Let Us Pray,” “For Moana,” “The Song” and “To Be Free” — are a reflection of emotions that have never been far from the surface on almost all his albums, something he describes as the nostalgic Gilad, “not sad but lamenting,” a reflection of a yearning for a homeland, perhaps idealised, of a musician who lives in exile. The title track, not jazz but using music to serve a broader point, reflects the funny Gilad, a key element of his live performances that audiences have come to love and respect. Each aspect of Atzmon’s musical personality, alongside each other and no longer in competition represents, to paraphrase John Mortimer, a journey around Gild Atzmon. It is both rewarding (his alto solo on “Romantic Church”), powerful (“Gaza Mon Amour”) and yes, humorous — the title track. And although his musical centre of gravity appears more sharply defined with this album, he also manages to suggest the promise of better things to come, of a story not yet fully told, which of course is what great artists always seem to do.