Udi Shlomo, You & Me Review
Crossroads of Cultures: A Journey through Udi Shlomo’s You & Me
by Ferell Aubre
Drummer and composer Udi Shlomo stands at the crossroads of diverse cultural influences, with roots in Kibbutz Nahshon, Israel, and experiences spanning Iraq, Poland, and the old Czechoslovakia. Now residing in Trondheim, Norway, since 2010, his music is a rich tapestry of these varying geographies, melded seamlessly into a genre Shlomo calls “World Jazz.” Shlomo’s album, You & Me, is a compelling testament to this journey and is deeply ingrained with the stories, memories, and images of his upbringing. Imbued with the distinct experiences of his Norwegian life, You & Me presents eight compositions encapsulating his artistic evolution and offering an auditory glimpse into his eclectic world.
With his second album, You & Me, Shlomo commands the drums, setting a rhythmic foundation for Omri Abramov on saxophone and Oscar Andreas Haug on trumpet, their instruments blending in a harmonic front line. Moshe Elmakias further enrich the ensemble on piano and Andreas Svabø on double bass, their notes resonating with foundational support. On specific tracks, the sonic texture broadens with guests Eirik Hegdal on clarinet (track 4), bass clarinet (track 7), and baritone saxophone (track 8), while Kyrre Laastad adds a rustic touch with the tambourine (tracks 1, 8).
“It’s Alright Now” is the first track to greet listeners with its infectious gospel theme, underpinned by the unity of piano and bass moving in sync with Shlomo’s steady drum cadence. A hip rhythmic twist in the interlude transports us momentarily before we are smoothly returned to the original groove. Shlomo’s cymbal activity intensifies to usher us into the solo performances. Both Elmakias and Abramov showcase their narrative abilities through their solos, a testament to the band’s spontaneous collaborative spirit. Throughout the song, Shlomo’s drumming is both supportive and lively, his presence palpable as he expertly guides the ensemble through the sound journey.
“Dror Yikra” opens with Haug playing an expressive melody before Shlomo enters to accompany him with his drums. The arrangement uses a playful use of feels, rhythmic hits, and counterpoint and reflects Shlomo’s unique blend of influences, adding to this traditional song’s rich tapestry of interpretations. This energy and tonal color is carried forward into Abramov’s engaging solo, with the ensemble’s dynamics expertly controlled by Shlomo from behind the drum set. An artfully crafted interlude ushers in a fresh feel, paving the way for Elmakias’s beautifully constructed solo, adding another layer of depth to the track.
Udi Shlomo’s You & Me is a testament to the drummer’s unique blend of influences, offering a fascinating exploration of “World Jazz.” With a firm grounding in various cultural musical traditions, Shlomo navigates the spectrum of moods and rhythms in each track. Shlomo’s presence is always palpable, guiding the ensemble with a supportive and vibrant touch from behind the drum set. The result is that You & Me brings attention to Shlomo’s status as a musical raconteur and a standout figure in the evolving world of jazz.