Roy Oppenheim (left) and Zohar Sharon.
(photo credit: YOSSI ZWECKER)
An old girlfriend once suggested to me that “Promises are meant to be broken.” I surmised, therefore, that perhaps boundaries are meant to be breached, or at least leapfrogged. A lengthy discussion ensued, and the relationship eventually petered out.
Of course, interfaces abound, and not just in interpersonal relations. The world of artistic-cultural endeavor is replete – some might say rife – with pigeonholing-dedicated delineation. While marketing professionals cling on to genre and style monikers, the people who actually produce the creative goods increasingly tend to ignore borders and neat definitions.
That certainly applies to the aptly named Revolution Orchestra, which has been engaged in sterling eclectic work for some time now, and has put on several spellbinding concerts at the Opera House in Tel Aviv, and elsewhere around the country, to rapturous audience response.
Now the ensemble, under the steady, widely roaming hands of founders, composer and arranger Zohar Sharon, and arranger and conductor Roy Oppenheim, are at it again, along with guitarist-vocalist Yonatan Albalak, as they launch the A Standard Revolution series, which kicks off at the Opera House on February 25 at 9 p.m.
The orchestra will be joined by the all-embracing Geshem Trio with considerable vocal firepower, not to mentioned stage presence, offered by stellar pop, soul, funk, groove singer Ester Rada. The genre baseline for the show program stems from jazzy quarters, although there is no way of knowing, ahead of time, exactly which way the rhythmic and textural flow will ultimately go.
That suits Albalak and his trio cohorts, keyboardist-vocalist Shuzin and drummer Aviv Cohen. Over the past three-and-a-half years, the group has dipped into a diverse spread of musical climes, from rock to jazz, electronica and less fettered sounds, to mention but a few. Albalak, who has done good artistic business with the Revolution Orchestra in the past, says the group has done some creative mileage during their time together to date.
“We went through something of a metamorphosis. We started out as a band that performs material from all the projects of each of us. We took stuff from all that so that we’d have something to perform at our gigs.” Things have taken off in the meantime, with no fixed objective in mind. “We started writing songs and, without looking consciously for our own sound, we discovered our sound.” Seems like a perfectly acceptable natural progression. “We didn’t go for a particular genre. We just spent time together in the recording studio, and things just came out. It was a sort of initial statement of intent.”
Jazz is very much a part of the trio’s artistic raison d’être, and they have lent their supple musicianship to a range of jazz-based projects in their time, including an intriguing take of Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess.
Albalak says he feeds off the raw material, and retains the sonic anchor regardless of any which way he and his pals may go thereafter. “It is always interesting to choose some aspect of the original work, and to proceed from there. The melody is often the last thing you can forego. So you know that’s going to there, but there are lots of other parameters you can ‘abuse,’ such as the tempo or harmony, or of course, the color of the arrangement.”
For the guitarist, the thematic pathway just keeps on unraveling. “For the previous show with the Revolution Orchestra, I said I want to take the material as far as I can, to the point of it becoming almost unrecognizable.” This time round things will be more grounded, at least in conceptual terms.
“The new material is designed to balance out all this madness, so I adopted a new approach. I said I want to preserve as much [of the source numbers] as possible, as long as it doesn’t get in my way. If the harmony is beautiful I won’t change it, and I won’t touch the melody too much – mainly because Ester is singing all the new arrangements, and she prefers the originals. That’s fine with me.”
It should be fine with the audience, too.