Songlines Magazine,which specializes in world music reviewed the latest album from BandOrient- led by Yair Dalal and Eli Benacot (Eli is the musical director of the JP Big Band – where I play tenor and clarinet and serve as the contractor). The group are amazing musicians – Yair is one of the world’s best oud players and Eli is a master on tenor and EWI not to mention a consummate musician.
The reviewer, Bill Bradley loved the album a lot but is not a big fan of Weather Report…..
The small print on the back of BandOrient’s first CD instructs retailers to “file under Ethno Jazz”: two little words liable to raise eyebrows for, as a genre, this has probably produced more shockers than most. However, one ot the guiding lights in BandOrient, Oud player Yair Dalal, is among the most adept and sincere musicians working in the Middle East today. It’s certainly worth venturing beyond the suspect label. What we find inside ranges from the truly sublime to the truly beastly, BandOrient’s other three members play assorted percussion, double bass and EWI
(Electronic Wind Instrument) – a blown MIDI controller that allows the player unbridled access to synthesized sounds and samples. If you’re an ardent fan of jazz rock’s more noodley excesses, then you should buy this album straight away: all the playing here will delight and amaze you. Yair Dalal is quite magnificent, the bass and percussion playing of Tzur Ben Ze’ev and Erez Mounk perfectly bridges East and West and Eli Benacot demonstrates wondrous dexterity on his clever little EWI.
However, if you spent much of the late 70s trying to avoid Weather Report, you may be a little more circumspect about the squealing synth portamentos that mar an otherwise beautifully balanced and tasteful maiden voyage from this group.
Personally – I’m a big fan of Weather Report and I’m not in a minority so I would say that if that is the only criticism, then Eli and Yair have every reason to be proud of their art.