Friday 19 March 2021

'Quarantine Blues' by Avishai Darash

'Quarantine Blues' is the new release from pianist Avishai Darash available through Italy's A.MA Records.

Well, it's certainly a title that anyone and everyone can resonate with - over the last twelve-plus months, the world has had to evolve and adapt to these new and extraordinary circumstances where face masks, social distancing, excessive amounts of hand sanitizer, home schooling and Zoom-based interactions have become our new "normal".  Yes, the notion of 'Quarantine Blues' is an experience that people the world over will forever have in common.

And while the past year has certainly impacted everyone, the impact on the music industry and independent artists and musicians has been particularly difficult to see unfolding.  Conversely, this can also be seen as a challenge that many have risen to - the need to continually create, even in less-than-inspirational circumstances, has led to some wonderful and inspired ideas and projects... which leads us to this exquisite release from Avishai Darash.

Initially introduced to A.MA audiences in 2018 through his 'Nomadic Treasures' collective and the following year through his solo full-length 'Samskara', the Amsterdam-based pianist and composer had introduced his distinct perspective on contemporary jazz - masterfully interweaving elements of his Middle Eastern heritage with the western influences he had started to become exposed to while studying in New York and subsequently moving to The Netherlands.  With 'Nomadic Treasures' and 'Samskara' both wonderfully innovative and thoughtful projects, Darash seeks to reinvent his sound once again with the release of 'Quarantine Blues'.

With this five-track EP comprised of Darash's new trio formation, which includes Arin Keshishi on bass and Udo Demandt on percussion, the complete set was recorded during one afternoon in Darash's living room after not having had the opportunity to play together for some time.  And the five tracks presented here are an absolute joy - 'Andalusian Love Song' captures such a pure and vibrant energy before moving to the introspective nature of 'Kartana'; 'She's the Perfume in the Wind' again skilfully manages to capture a real spontaneity in the recording managing to sound both impetuous and romantic at the same time.  The EP closes with a new interpretation of Darash's 'Lullaby for Bendavid', originally housed on Darash's 'Samskara' album.

While quarantine life has led to some life-changing and desolate moments for many, there is still joy to be found in these little moments of creativity and art.  Hopefully, the next time Avishai Darash and his trio get together, they'll have more than just an afternoon to create music for listeners to enjoy, but in the meantime, this EP will carry us through.

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