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  • Jonathan Widran

ELDAD TARMU, Tarmu Jazz Quartet

Though the wildly inventive, intuitively and conversationally dynamic – and oft-times, delightfully grooving and funky – Tarmu Jazz Quintet is a new venture for Eldad Tarmu, it caps an amazingly eclectic first quarter century of recording for the veteran vibraphone maestro.

He comes by his versatility naturally as a true musical citizen of the world. Born in Los Angeles and educated in Tel Aviv, he was Professor of Jazz Studies at the Richard Oschanitsky Jazz and Pop School of Tibiscus University in Romania and has performed in over 25 countries. In the years prior to forming his new jazz quartet featuring Adam Hutcheson (alto sax), Sam Bevan (bass) and Cengiz Baysal (drums), Tarmu released a dreamy, soulful woodwind quintet album (Stained Glass Stories) and Farewell, St. George, a winsome trio date with guitarist Chuck Jennings and drummer drummer Robert Ikiz.

Powerfully upping the energy and flow, the self-titled debut of the Tarmu Jazz Quartet features Tarmu’s vibes both as a graceful and charming harmonic element and as a passionate improvisational solo instrument. Yet the sound that makes the most intense and emotional impact, seemingly by design, is that of Hutcheson, whose sense of punch, buoyant funk and strutting swing adds a memorable flair to tunes that range from the sly, romantic (yet poppin’ at times) opener “Café Sole” to the perfectly titled “El Hipnotizador” (featuring one of Hutcheson’s most intense improvisational runs over Tarmu’s truly hypnotic vibes sparkle) and on through the witty and whimsical “Mating Calls,” whose quick rhythmic shifts showcase Baysal’s nimble fire perfectly. “Tall Grass Prairie” is the perfect closer that gives Tarmu, Hutcheson and Bevan ample separate solo time as well as exciting final interactions.

Fans of Tarmu, and those who simply love the timeless sound of a vibraphone quartet, will be hoping that the Tarmu Jazz Quartet is not simply a dazzling one off session, but an ensemble that’s just getting rolling.

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