Praised by critics as, “extraordinary” (New York Times), “roaringly inventive” (Jazziz), and, “one of the most exciting musicians to come onto the jazz scene in the last 20 years” (Downbeat), Omer Avital is a visionary composer and virtuoso musician whose genre-defying ensembles are pushing the boundaries of jazz expression and providing audiences with swing and spiritual sustenance in equal measure. Avital’s compositions range from sophisticated jazz conversations (Yes! Trio) to funky, Middle-Eastern grooves (Yemen Blues) to long-form, orchestral arrangements of traditional Sephardi music (Ahavat Olamim). With his latest offering, “Suite of the East,” Omer has turned his traditional jazz sensibility to the performance of Middle Eastern and North African music. The hard-charging, reflective and joyful CD was chosen by TSF Jazz as Album of the year in France and picked for NPR Music’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2012.
Since Omer Avital debuted as a bandleader in 1995, the Israeli-American bassist-composer has established himself internationally as a virtuoso practitioner of his instrument and a transformational composer and musical thinker. As a performer, Avital is a master of the various rhythmic and harmonic vocabularies that underpin 20th and 21st century hardcore jazz expression, which he approaches with a polyphonic attitude and articulates with prodigious technique. As a conceptualist, he is an avatar of musical multilingualism, as fluent carving out an erudite walking bassline as creating gorgeous melodies from percolating North African grooves, elemental vamps and Middle Eastern scales that descend from his Yemenite and Moroccan roots.
With every new album, Avital tries to deliver new music with a strong statement, a powerful sound, joyful rhythms and oriental melodies that draw on gospel and soul. Avital is continually evolving contemporary jazz, rightly been called one of the most unique musicians of his generation. Informed by his experience in the polyglot melting pots of his native and adopted homes, Avital will continue to merge the streams of expression that permeate his unique musical production over the last two decades. Pragmatic and utopian, grounded and visionary, he’s a 21st century lodestar.