Pianist Ehud Asherie's third CD for Posi-Tone is a delightful mix of standards that aren't played that often, overlooked jazz gems, and his potent originals. Joined by three veteran players, including tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, bassist Joel Forbes, and drummer Chuck Riggs, the native Israeli (who now lives in New York) opens the session with a buoyant midtempo arrangement of Jerome Kern's "I Told Ev'ry Little Star," showcasing Allen's robust tenor. "Trolley Song" has fallen out of favor among jazz musicians since its heyday in the 1950s, but the pianist's driving rendition proves it is by no means dated recast as an uptempo bop vehicle. Tadd Dameron's exotic ballad "Casbah" has a soft Latin undercurrent, backing Asherie's sublime piano and Allen's Ben Webster-like tenor. The late jazz pianist Hank Jones' "Vignette" is another forgotten jewel, highlighted by Asherie's blues-infused solo. Asherie and Allen perform the lush setting of Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing" as a duo to wrap this enjoyable CD.
Modern life, if this fine recording from Israeli-born, New York-based pianist Ehud Asherie is anything to go by, happened sometime between the late-1940s and the late-'50s. From the beautifully-designed packaging—with the greens and golds of the graphics matched by those of Asherie's suit, shirt and tie—to the exquisite renditions of classic tunes and a couple of Asherie originals, Modern Life is an album that oozes nostalgia and a love for a style of jazz that remains fresh and engaging today.
Asherie's piano style reflects the inspiration of players such as Errol Garner. Light and lyrical, it's an approach that creates delightful solos on Jerome Kern's "I've Told Every Little Star" and Asherie's own "Blues for George," as well as understated and note-perfect accompaniments throughout. Both talents are shown to great effect on George Gershwin's "He Loves and She Loves," with Asherie's feather-light accompaniment to Harry Allen's saxophone moving effortlessly into his own sparkling solo. This tune also highlights the rhythm section of bassist Joel Forbes and drummer Chuck Riggs, with both players showing a deft economy that ensures an ideal foundation for the lead instruments.
Asherie and Allen close out the album with a duet version of Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing." They respond to the absence of Riggs and Forbes—not by attempting to fill in the spaces but by leaving them be. The result is a languid and relaxed performance of great beauty. Indeed, great beauty is a characteristic to be found throughout Modern Life.