Cool jazz fusing cultures

By Willie Gordon Suting

Not many jazz drummers of Yogev Shetrit’s calibre come to perform in Shillong, known for its love for jazz and blues music.
The city recently witnessed Shetrit dazzle with the drums at U Soso Tham Auditorium. Shetrit’s exploratory melodies are the best that the Ethno-Jazz genre offers. His improvisational techniques are scrupulously tasteful and well-timed.
The number Ayala had a pace that never felt rushed. It was approached with placidity and carefulness. The sound of Stav Goldberg’s piano rose and dipped akin to fluidity of water. The melodies ranged from sadness to complete ecstasy. Shetrit hit all the right notes with the drums as he worked his solos. Meni Welt brought warmth and richness with the bass guitar. The piano’s expression was full of tides of raw emotion.
Shetrit has come a long way from starting out his career with a rock band. “I played drums for a band when I was just 14 years of age,” he says.
The drummer, whose forte is Ethno-Jazz, says he tries to amalgamate western styles like cool jazz, ragtime, bebop, hardbop, funk etc with Brazillian, Cuban, Andalusian and Moroccan sounds. “My music in my New Path album has a lot of culture as it is a mixture of all these,” he says.
Shetrit and his band have played in Guatemala Jazz Festival, Kazakhastan Expo and many cities of the world. Having recently played at the Delhi Jazz Festival and also in Aizawl and Guwahati, he says Shillong surprised him. “Though the auditorium wasn’t full house, the energy and enthusiasm of the audience was unbelievable and unexpected!” he says.
And indeed the energy was palpable as Shetrit’s performance resonated with all. “I very much would love to come here again. ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) did a great job in organising this concert!”
Among the numbers he played, I’ll Wait had a touch of cool jazz with clever and intelligent improvisation by Shetrit. He was precise and accurate with solos. There was an almost gentle kind of adrenaline which he produced with the drums.
Goldberg’s piano echoed touches of Dave Brubeck full of vivacity and mirth. I’ll Wait had an intensity that with its shifting melodies was redolent of the sereneness of nature.
Shetrit who hails from Israel has made his name playing with many bands, the most popular among them being Cooloooloosh of which he was a member from 2003 to 2014.
During his performance in Shillong, Shetrit was at the peak of his creative powers making it an evening to stay in the hearts of people. For instance, Café Atlas was also an experiment with fleeting chord changes. The structure was reminiscent of a juxtaposed artwork rich in many details. The detailing of melodies was conspicuous but deep.
Shetrit had strong abilities with timing of his drum solos never failing to articulate beauty. Welt on the bass guitar provided fills which seemed effortless. Goldberg gave atmospheric vibes with his piano.
New Path was infused with Moroccan folk music rhythms as Shetrit used a Moroccan instrument as intro. Its altering melodies which were seamlessly amalgamated with western jazz were complex but compelling. Goldberg infused many of his diverse influences into the piece with his piano.
Shetrit was dexterous without seeming to push himself. He exercised his capacity to bring forth joyful sounds with the drums.
I Know Why was an antithesis of New Path as its rhythmic patterns were of cool jazz. It was expressed with minute detailing given to subtle melodies. The charm in the piece was Shetrit who played his solos with energetic sway. He upped the ante with each intonation. He worked on the cymbals and bass drum with speed and grace. Welt gave smoothness to the number with bass guitar.
Organised by ICCR in collaboration with North Eastern Council Shillong and the Department of Arts and Culture, the concert held in the U SosoTham Auditorium was also part of the band’s four-city India tour.

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