Also deserving special mention is Eric Doob, a hyper-dynamic drummer in the vein of someone like Jeff Ballard or Eric Harland. Doob delivers much of the punch that nudges this disc into a higher territory. Gurvich and Dakari are focused on clear tone and melodic invention, with not a lot of grit in their playing, which is what Doob brings to the party. Check out the conversation that's happening between Doob and Takashi Sugawa on bass under Gurvich's solo on "Besora." Gurvich is mostly floating over it, but the rhythm section doesn't mind. They're happily kickboxing and knocking each other out of the ring.
Other standouts are the waltz (if you can call it that) "So Far Yet So Close," once again pitting a singing melody against a maelstrom of a rhythm section. When Dakari steps up for his solo here, his thought process is so transparent you can see the melodic development almost before it happens. Like Gurvich, he's never one to let go of control, no matter how much Doob might goad him, instead pushing into the upper register for an almost rock star moment of repeated riffs before Gurvich brings it all back.
The ballad "Remembrance" ventures a little towards ECM territory, perhaps propelled by Mika Nishimura's piano playing, or more correctly, the way the piano is recorded. However, "Remembrance" is nice in that it gives Nishimura a bit more of the spotlight, where elsewhere the piano sort of disappears into the music.
As a composer, Dakari is clearly quite sophisticated, relying often on ostinato patterns to set up a groove under his undulating melodies. But where a lesser writer might take the middle-eastern modality into stereotypical territory, Dakari always throws some little twist into his melodies, turning down side streets to avoid the main thoroughfare. He's clearly at home with this kind of modality, and even if many Tzadik releases rely pretty heavily on so-called klezmer scales, Dakari's gift for melody separates him from Tzadik-as-usual (if there is such a thing).