Itamar Borochov’s “Arba”: A Harmonious Fusion of Roots and Jazz

by Madonna

New York-based trumpeter-composer Itamar Borochov unveils his sixth album, “Arba,” in a compelling testament to his musical prowess and rich heritage. Born in Jaffa, Israel, Borochov weaves together a captivating tapestry of acoustic quartet jazz interwoven with the melodies of his Jewish Sephardic and Mizrahi roots. A founding member of the dynamic Yemen Blues ensemble, Borochov also infuses his work with echoes of other Semitic cultures that have deeply resonated with him since his formative years.

The heart of “Arba” draws inspiration primarily from the “Maqam,” a microtonal modal system native to the Middle East. Borochov deftly navigates this intricate musical landscape through the artistry of his Monette four-valve quarter-tone trumpet, which enables him to explore the nuances of this musical heritage while maintaining a profoundly melodic approach. Although parallels might be drawn between his style and that of musicians like Ibrahim Maalouf and the remarkable British trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, Borochov’s distinctive tone emanates warmth and conversational intimacy, setting him apart.

As the album unfolds, Borochov’s versatility shines through. From the bustling free-bop bursts that animate the hypnotic theme of “Bayat Blues” to the more tranquil folk-infused strains of “Truth” and “Farewell,” he showcases a new generation jazzman’s boundless range. Collaborating with the talented Chicagoan pianist Rob Clearfield in this quartet setting, Borochov’s vocalizations, both wordless and in his native tongue, grace several tracks. However, despite his trumpet’s seamless affinity with the human voice, these moments don’t reach their full potential, leaving a yearning for more impactful vocal harmonies.

“Arba” resonates with instances of brilliance, where the ensemble’s cohesion stands out. Borochov’s melodic dialogues intertwine effortlessly with his fellow musicians, creating a captivating sonic journey. Yet, one can’t help but feel that this gifted young trumpeter’s journey has only just begun, hinting at even greater heights to be scaled in the future. As Borochov continues to harmonize his roots with the jazz idiom, the world awaits the future symphonies he will craft, a testament to his enduring talent and creative evolution.

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