Soul Records – 2015
10 tracks; 63 minutes
Noam Dayan is an Israeli guitarist and singer who was bitten by the blues bug at an early age. He lived for a while in Chicago and is now back in his homeland. His website explains that he plays solo, in a duo and in a band format. In 2013 he released a solo acoustic album in Delta blues style but this entirely original album is firmly electric and often a big band format. A large number of musicians contributed to the sessions: Noam on guitar and vocals, Zeev Zilberman on upright bass, Amit Lorber on drums, Avishay Borovsky on piano and Moshe Levi on Hammond are joined by a three man horn section of Erez Hodara on trumpet, Alon Ben Shalom on tenor and Rami Alster on baritone sax on seven of the ten songs; Yair Dalal plays violin, Eyal Kdoshim harp and American Guy King guitar on one track each; Rudy Bainesay sings one song instead of Noam.
The album has a relaxed big band feel on most of the tracks courtesy of the horns, Noam playing some excellent guitar and singing in a light voice with just a slight trace of accent which does not detract from the enjoyment of the album.
Most of the songs here are long enough to allow the main players plenty of space and Noam takes full advantage but leaves ample space for his band mates too. Opening track “Little Place Called Pai” is a jaunty shuffle with Noam’s warm guitar in BB King mode, superbly supported by the horns and piano, a song about what seems an ideal place to kick back and relax. “Shores Of Simplicity” has some great Albert King style guitar from Noam as well as a convincing vocal, the horns in a restrained background role on a minor key blues.
Some varied drumming introduces “Plays The Blues And Proud”, Noam’s advice to those who, like him, cannot help but want to play the blues, despite the lack of money: “Be wise with your career, your music probably will get refused, but what can I do, all I know is just the blues”. Moshe’s swirling organ gives the tune a late night supper club feel, only to be overtaken by the violin attack from Yair. We don’t often hear the violin but it works fine here alongside Noam’s sensitive plucked solo. “Keep It Cool” has a jazzier feel, a quartet performance with plenty of opportunity for organist Moshe to shine and for Noam to play some nice T-Bone style guitar.
The centerpiece of the album is the enigmatic “The Beating Heart Of The Camp (Blues For Etty Hillesum)” which clocks in at over eight minutes. It’s a slow blues which opens with Noam plucking the strings against moody organ which sets the mood for Rudi’s dramatic lead vocal, a heartfelt tribute to the person of the title who clearly inspired author Noam to aspire to higher attitudes: “You find the good in everything. They all tell me, but they’re wrong. The good is always everywhere along with the evil, they sing a song.” The horns offer support later in the tune but it is Noam whose solo that stands out here, capturing the tone of the lyrics so well.
Noam lightens the mood with the bouncy “Fifteen Hours” which opens with ringing guitar again in T-Bone vein from guest Guy King, lyrically the story of being stuck in an airport together, ending up falling in love! Perhaps that resulted in the passion of the short, jazzy “All Of You” where Noam sings of wanting literally every bit of his lover and names most of them: “Give me your skin – your smell is all the air I need”.
Harmonica player Eyal is featured on the classic 12 bar sound of “Smiles And Cries” which sounds like the sort of tune that Noam would have learned during his time in Chicago before the band take us on the extended instrumental “Only Peace” which offers lots of opportunities for everyone to show their talents. Over a funky rhythm aided by Avishay’s electric piano everyone gets solo opportunities, the whole horn section providing a lovely chorus line in between.
The final track “Let The Man Go Free” follows on thematically with lyrics that rather echo the sentiments of John Lennon’s “Imagine”: “Up on this tree you won’t find no religion or society. We all gather here to breathe air with no ideas, we do believe you can let the man go free”. Another long track, this one has a samba rhythm and some suitably Brazilian sounding guitar from Noam, once again beautifully framed by the horns.
This is a subtle and interesting album with plenty of excellent playing. It is not all blues by any means but every track has the blues DNA running through it and it is all thoroughly enjoyable. The disc is available from CD Baby and is well worth checking out.