Full Price (46 mins)
French clarinet player Yom is one of the brightest lights to come out of the European klezmer scene for years. Former member of the much underrated French klezmer stylists Klezmer Nova (aka The Orient Express Moving Shnorers), his first solo album in 2008, entitled ‘The New King of Klezmer Clarinet’ in honour of equally modest US legend Naftule Brandwein, was released in 2008 to great acclaim. It had Brandwein’s luminous virtuosity, his arrogance, his humour. This second album is its stylistic antithesis: a series of ambitious, expansive duets that Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem in its sense of poise, and the understated expressionism of German label ECM. Second track ‘Apparition’ is astonishing: Wang Li’s Chinese Jew’s harp drives the track with a hypnotic, processed riff underneath Yom’s alternately languorous and fiery melodies that owe nothing to klezmer except its ornaments and deep emotion. Despite the restrictions of the duet or trio form, it never sounds empty and there is not a weeping jazz or klezmer clarinet cliché in sight. ‘Rêve de l’enfant’, a duet with Romanian cymbalom master Iurie Morar, creeps from lullaby to nightmare and back with incredible control; ‘Petite Fille’ sparkles alongside the unparalleled talent of Lebanese quarter-tone trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf; the duet with Iranian percussionist Bijan Chemirani on zarb and daf, ‘Une épopée’ manages to be both a brooding, unsettling cinematic landscape and quite the most impressive piece of high speed clarinet playing I’ve heard in years. A tour de force.