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Israeli, New York-based trumpeter Itamar Borochov returned to Israel in a time of hopelessness and turmoil, in 2020, just at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. He found solace in diving into the world of traditional Middle-Eastern modes, maqamat, and devising new ways of adapting it to a new, custom-built Monette quarter-tone 4-valve trumpet. This experience liberated Borochov to express his music in a new and powerfully authentic way and brought a sense of freedom as well as a recognition of faith in the radiant life force.

Playing maqamat was natural for Borochov who comes from a musical family. His father Yisrael Borochov is a multi-instrumentalist who was one of the first local pioneers to introduce elements of Eastern musical traditions into his music and later founded the East-West Ensemble. The brother of Itamar, Avri Borochov is a double bass and oud player. Itamar Borochov is also the co-founder of Yemen Blues band and notes that his new music «originates from the stirring Middle Eastern sounds that have surrounded me since my childhood in the Mediterranean».

Arba (four in Hebrew), is Borochov’s fourth solo album, and it was recorded when Borochov returned to New York, at Big Orange Sheep in Brooklyn in April 2022. It features drummer Jay Sawyer and pianist and organ player Rob Clearfield, who played in Borochov’s previous albums, plus double bass player Rick Rosato and brother Avri as a guest in one piece. Borochov composed all nine pieces, and these are love songs and ballads, but «not without pain», that «accept the simple beauty of existence». These songs highlight his warm, often whispering sound on the trumpet (listen to the opening piece «Abraham» and «What Broke You?»), which brings to mind the sound of Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen, but is much more rooted in the jazz tradition. Borochov weaves into his lyrical and often melancholic melodies a seductive yet fragile sensuality, especially when he vocalizes, and knows how to sketch emotional, story-like textures. His quartet understands perfectly the organic unity and natural playfulness of Eastern and Western elements in Borochov’s music and has a strong band sound.

Eyal Hareuveni

Itamar Borochov (trumpet, voice, effects), Rob Clearfield (piano, Rhodes, B3 organ), Rick Rosato (double bass), Jay Sawyer (drums, percussion), Avri Borochov (oud)