Downbeat Magazine, June, 2002, by Will Smith ★★★★½
The spirit and substance of musical multiculturalism are displayed with joyous clarity on Think With Your Heart, the leadership debut by Israeli expatriate bassist Omer Avital.
What makes this such a warmly winning recording–in addition to Avital’s thrusting bass support, intriguing tunes and arrangements with no brass players or piano–is his cadre of woodwind players: Saxophonists Greg Tardy, Myron Walden, Jimmy Greene, Joel Frahm and Jay Collins–all strong in section work as well as solos–have recordings available, yet are far from household names, despite their forceful and sensitive expressiveness.
Elements of the Mediterranean are incorporated seamlessly with inspired jazz improvisation. Avital’s writing has great pacing, featuring deeply expressed ballads along with hard-driving cookers. His woodwind ensemble, ranging in size from four to six players here, brings to life memorable compositions through arrangements that either cushion or propel the soloists.
Think With Your Heart brims with booting solos and well-conceived ensemble backing. Even “Stella By Starlight” gets a fresh look. Avital’s occasional encouraging shouts behind the soloists are clear expressions of delight, and drummers Daniel Freedman and Marlon Browden help Avital keep the rhythmic pots boiling.