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Jamie Saft

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Album Review

Keyboardist Jamie Saft's discography as a sideman finds him placed squarely in the midst of some of the finest jazz and new music of the 1990s, which makes Sovlanut, his debut recording as a leader, something of a surprise. Despite the presence of ubiquitous downtowners Chris Speed and Jim Black, Sovlanut is not exactly a grand avant-jazz masterpiece, but instead a challenging expedition into live electronica, as Jewish and Arabic themes are arranged over a dense backdrop of dub and drum'n'bass. Though there certainly is bountiful improvising to be had, Sovlanut seems more focused on exploring similar atmospheric territory as the club music by which it was inspired; on the title track, Saft coaxes lush washes of sound from his synthesizer as Speed's anguished clarinet mumbles underneath, while the rhythm section barrels along, jumbling up the beat here and there like a scratched Squarepusher record. In this case, no one player dominates the musical dialogue, yet the results are completely infectious and compelling. Naturally, a live rendering of this music, much of which is typically programmed in a studio, asks a great deal of the rhythm section, and Saft has found one more than up to the task. Drummer Jim Black seems capable of anything, capturing the madly subdivided rhythms of drum'n'bass under his madcap percussive umbrella with ease, while Groove Collective bassist Jason Maron never wavers from his spacious pocket. Though Saft may not have cemented a new musical genre with Sovlanut (downtown-klezmer-electronica?), he has produced a unique and enjoyable document.


Born: New York, NY [Queens]

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Inspired keyboardist Jamie Saft started appearing on an increasing number of N.Y.C.-oriented jazz recordings during the '90s and well into the new millennium. Born in Queens, New York, Saft studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and Tufts University. At these schools, he studied with Paul Bley, Geri Allen, Cecil McBee, and Joe Maneri, in addition to having composer and "piano technical guru" (as Saft described him) Burton Hatheway as a mentor. In 1993, Saft returned to New York and has...
Full Bio

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