Multi-cultured, multi-textured, and emotionally riveting, Odessa/Havana is a bewitching album with traditional lines rooted in Sephardic and Cuban-dance customs that deliver a modern finish in its lamenting moods and celebratory pomp. The album is the collaboration of trumpet/composer/bandleader David Buchbinder and pianist/composer Hilario Duran with a crew of prominent jazz musicians that include violinist Aleksander Gajic, reedist Quinsin Nachoff, bassist Roberto Occhipinti, drummer Mark Kelso Dafnis Prieto, and percussionists Rich Shadrach Lazar and Jorge Luis Torres, with special guest John Gzowski on oud (similar to a lute).
The album has aspects of Gypsy spins, Jewish dirges, sinuous Arabic shimmies, and Cuban-jazz rhythms. The cultures of the Middle East and South American regions come together under one roof in Odessa/Havana, as if there was never a divide that kept them apart. The culmination of the two is enthralling from the beginning with "Lailadance," composed by Buchbinder. Shimmies and sambas come together like one big party bash that reels you into its elliptical rings. The Spanish-quenched horns of "Impressions" are draped around Jewish-fringed strings. Composed by Duran, this composition creates an alcove for his bristling piano keys to come alive. Buchbinder’s composition "Cadiz" projects a weeping ambience that slowly builds into a crescendo and releases into an Arabic-frenzy. The layers of instrument parts augment the hurried pace which wilts back to a weeping gait.
Duran’s two compositions, "Next One Rising" and "Rumba Judia" breaths both Latin and Jewish properties. The glittering piano keys of "Next One Rising" are imbibed with nostalgia while the twittering horns fondle brazenly across the melodic planes. The percussive lambada of "Rumba Judia" are layered with Gypsy strings. Buchbinder’s "Prayer" is a somber aria with baritone registers billowing softly, while Buchbinder and Duran’s collaborative number "Colaboracion" is an introspective piece toggling experimental phrases and crisscrossing each other into erratic matrixes. The album closes out with Duran’s celebratory pomp "Freylekhs Tumbao" with the revelry of Jewish dances and swirling horns that leaves the listener feeling joyous.
Produced by Roberto Occhipinti, Odessa/Havana is a tapestry of Latin and Jewish artifices which acquiesce to each other so greatly that they seem inherently related. Buchbinder and Duran show that bringing together two diverse musical and cultural backgrounds present a kinetic energy that manifests into new sonic hybrids. There is a great deal of experimental phrasing and numerous reflections of traditional attributes in Odessa/Havana that when they come together, the symposium creates aural spectacles of progressive Gypsy jazz that leaves a positive impression on its listeners.