Eli Degibri

“Don’t miss him…”

Ben Ratliff. The New York Times

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Like bassist Avishai Cohen, whom he succeeded as co-artistic director of the Red Sea Jazz Festival, Jaffa-born Eli Degibri has returned to Israel after distinguishing himself at Berklee College of Music and the Thelonious Monk Institute and serving significant stretches in Herbie Hancock’s sextet and Al Foster’s band. Now a leader in his own right, he’s assembled a meaty quartet of young compatriot musicians, including remarkable 20-year-old pianist Gadi Lehavi, drummer Ofri Nehemya and longtime collaborator Barak Mori.

What makes Degibri outstanding is his inner flame, which is allied to virtuosic melodic purity.

Take the killing title track: It begins like a threnody and steadily grows febrile, the first section of the leader’s solo trailing off with a trademark ghosted glissando and then gaining pace with controlled momentum. The solo shifts into double-time before climaxing with an audacious altissimo note, approached with the determination of an experienced alpinist. Holding ropes underneath is Lehavi, who gradually reveals his own mountaineering chops.

Makes for an exhilarating trip

“Even Bees Do It,” like “Ocean View,” is a contrastingly joyful soprano feature demonstrating Degibri’s impressive breath control and quasi-classical poise. His 11 originals all engage without pretension, though some are feistier than others (the tensile “Shesh Besh” is a nice vehicle for Nehemya). The way the group plays pretty and simple—then cranks through the gears—makes for an exhilarating trip.

by Michael Jackson. Downbeat Magazine