Years from now, when folks are remembering the early days of the West Village jazz haunt Smalls, bassist Omer Avital’s name will be as synonymous with the club as Bill Evan’s is with the Village Vanguard, and Thelonious Monk’s is with the original Five Spot Café.
– Time Out New York
Omer Avital on Arrival:
The compositions on this record represent an interesting period in my creative life. They were written mostly between 1998-2001. In the mid-to-late 90s I was preoccupied with composing for my sextet (The Omer Avital Group). That group had a very specific and unique orchestration of 4 saxophones, bass and drums. Back then I was drawing most of my inspiration from the vast tradition of jazz ensemble writing and improvisation, as well as from the classical European tradition, while trying to fit my ideas for this group. It was like a “jazz chamber group” where I could write very specific details and get to an intimate vibe.
Towards the end of that period I became interested and musically involved in different styles of music: Afro- Cuban, South American styles, West and North African, Middle Eastern, Israeli – and also got back to my early rock and R&B influences. Some of it found its way into the last period of that group (Think With Your Heart, Fresh Sound, 2000), but I felt I needed a different kind of band to play this newer music.
My approach didn’t change completely, but I began to be much more interested in the element of “song” in music. A beautiful, long and profound melodic motion was always my main interest when I composed, but now the forms were a little more compressed, and sometimes resembled folklore formats or popular music.
The general atmosphere and feeling of the music became important to the overall plan. I tried to strike a balance between the virtuosity and elasticity of the contemporary jazz ensemble and directness of some of my new themes.
Arrival represents a bridge of sorts – a point of transition between my earlier experiments with The Omer Avital Group and the music I compose today. I like to think of my music as another branch of the infinite tree of “song.” I’m more interested in communicating my ideas, thoughts and emotions in a more universal way. I started my professional musical life as a jazz composer/ performer, but my goal is to transcend the limits of style. That is the reason why I constantly study other forms of music like European classical, Middle Eastern, North African and Israeli folk. My jazz education is extremely important for my musical identity, but at the same time I don’t want it to limit what I have to communicate to the world. Arrival is another little step in clarifying to myself what I want to say.