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Israeli tenor sax player Eyal Netzer and pianist Milton Michaeli are two gifted composers-improvisers of the young local jazz scene. Both played in renowned local sax hero–educator Stephen Horenstein’s Lab Orchestra and collaborate again in bassist Shay Hazan’s Quintet. Netzer plays in the orchestra of another local sax hero,  Assif Tsahar, while Michaeli plays in Tsahar Quartet. Shine is their debut duo album, highlighting their diverse interests from the raw, muscular energy of free jazz to the more traditional and intimate sax-piano duos of jazz.

Shine opens with Netzer’s three-part suite «Mamelodi», titled after the South African township after Nezter’s visit there and heavily influenced by South African jazz (Netzerr with the Hazan’s Quintet already covered Mongezi Feza’s classic «ou Ain’t Gonna Know Me ‘Cos You Think You Know Me»). This suite begins with an ecstatic and powerful «Gol», moves to the contemplative and introspective «Shine» with Netzer playing the traditional Armenian double-reed Zurna, and ends with uplifting and soulful «Mamelodi», all cement the immediate, deep affinity of Netzer and Michaeli. Netzer’s «Evening Puja» visits another exotic territory and suggests peaceful and meditative voices – literally – evoking the traditional Indian ceremony.

Michaeli’s «Shpalartung» brings the duo into more familiar jazz territory and form. Netzer deepens this playful vibe with «Subtler and subtler», now switching to the clarinet, while Netzer and Michaeli’s «Blues» concludes their homage to the roots of free jazz and improvisation, but taking it to free regions. This impressive and beautiful album ends with a soulful and innocent cover of Elton John’s hit «Goodbye Yellow Brick Road». Not surprising as Netzer covered in his last Duo album with percussionist Oded Geizhals another popular gem, Angelo Badalamenti’s «Laura Palmer Theme».

Eyal Hareuveni

Eyal Netzer (ts, cl, zurna), Milton Michaeli (p)

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