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It's In the Twilight

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Album Review

Arranger, composer, and saxophonist Paul Shapiro issued a whopper of a Tzadik debut in Midnight Minyan. That amazing set took six traditional Jewish melodies and ramped them up into a modern jazz blend that took meaty bits and pieces from post-bop and modal jazz, and deep honking R&B forms, and grafted them freely onto the originals. It was in his own compositions — there were two — where Shapiro's true musical brilliance shown brightest. On It's in the Twilight, Shapiro turns that record inside out and performs six originals and two devotional pieces. The same band performs Shapiro's music with energy, glee, and true sophistication. The romp starts on the first track, "Light Rolls the Darkness," a traditional piece. Shapiro grafts an Afro-Cuban rhythm and harmonic line onto the original melody and so what you get is a modern Jewish bolero. There is no stretching involved, either. The front line with Peter Apfelbaum and Shapiro on saxophones, Steven Bernstein on trumpet (and slide trumpet later) urged on by Brian Mitchell's piano playing is utterly groove-driven. Drummer Tony Lewis and bassist Booker King can shift on a dime, but can take the entire mess deeper and wider. Mitchell, for his part, allows traces of his influences to shine through from Herbie Hancock and Frank Emilio Flynn to Ramsey Lewis and Vince Guaraldi, his melodic and rhythmic sensibilities are fluid and in the pocket. Shapiro's "Children of Abraham" takes the big beat further on this gorgeous charger that brings in everyone from Latin jazz maestros Machito, and Tito Puente to the klezmer of Dave Tarras. The lyric line is grafted onto salsero and bolero while remaining fully Jewish. But when the honking and shouting goes on in the solos, it's strictly edgy post-bop with an ear for the rail. On "Oy Veys Mir," the melodies come from Yiddish folk forms but are laid out in bluesed-out Ellingtonia from the Cotton Club era as it met the great soloists of the Duke's Blanton-Webster band. And so it goes: there isn't a moment on this wonderful set that doesn't push the listener toward delight; it swings, wails, sings, and cries with pleasure.

Customer Reviews

I Love This Album!!!!!!!!!

I first heard "Light Rolls Away The Darkness" on a local jazz station about 2 am, and was so knocked out I had to hunt down the rest of it. Why Paul Shapiro isn't the king of the jazz world is a complete mystery to me. Beautiful, fantastic, soulful jazz that would have been right at home on the old Blue Note label in the late 50's/early 60's. The Eastern qualities of the traditional melodies lend themselves well to this format. Discover this amazing jazz!


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Paul Shapiro is a saxophone and flute player, composer, and bandleader who has been on the New York City music scene since the 1980s. Born and raised on Long Island in Westbury, NY, Shapiro graduated from public school and moved to Montreal, Canada, studying at the renowned McGill University, receiving his B.F.A. Returning to the metropolitan New York City area, he led the progressive funk band Foreign Legion, followed by a stint with the Microscopic Septet, replacing John Hagen after their first...
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It's In the Twilight, Paul Shapiro
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