Yaniv Taubenhouse (p)
Bar code: 8427328436298
Extraordinary times often produces extraordinary art. In the case of pianist Yaniv Taubenhouse, his new solo piano recording, Hope, was created during the onset of the global pandemic, in February 2020, against a backdrop of news about the virus spreading, coupled with anxiety and fear of the unknown, but also a survival instinct laced with hope. Hope acknowledges the great trials humanity has been through over the past two years, and offers optimism and beauty for today, and for whatever tomorrow may bring. This album speaks volumes of the resiliency, an unrelenting determination to create, and a deftness at improvising (on and off the bandstand), which Taubenhouse, and the jazz community at large, have displayed.
Hope also serves as another testament (this is his sixth album as a leader) to the fact that Taubenhouse is an accomplished trekker in the footsteps of the likes of Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Monk, Oscar Peterson and other piano giants. His educational pedigree is unassailable (having studied extensively with jazz and classical masters and earning a BFA from The New School), and he has been called upon to work with Ronald McClure, Anat Cohen, David Schnitter, Ari Hoenig, Roswell Rudd, Jorge Rossy, Orlando Le Fleming, George Coleman, Peter Bernstein, Ferenc Nemeth, Will Vinson, among many others. Taubenhouse has recorded and released three critically-acclaimed albums in the Moments In Trio series, a co-led album with vocalist Sarah Eden, and his debut trio album, Here From There, and has toured the world many times, performing at prestigious venues and festivals in numerous locales.
Taubenhouse decided to follow up his latest trio recording with a format which enables him to tell you his story as an artist, as a pianist, as a person in this world, intimately, and from his heart. Hope, recorded on a gorgeous sounding Yamaha C7 piano at Knob Hill Studios (located in Northwest Arkansas and run by a dear friend of Taubenhouse, and incredible musician, Darren Novotny), is comprised of twelve “chapters” (original music and works by Kenny Wheeler, Cole Porter, Henry Mancini and Thelonious Monk), programmed to invite the listener deeply into the pianist’s insight, intention and truth. Taubenhouse explains that, “the album is ‘framed’ with a mini suite; Chapter One, Chapter Two, and Chapter Three. Each of the three chapters has its own title but musically there is a direct correlation between them, both harmonically and melodically. The idea of spreading the three chapters throughout the program (tracks 1, 6 & 12) and not placing them one after the other comes out of the desire to present the entire program as a whole, as opposed to individual songs that just happen to appear next to each other on the same record.
Solo piano has been a big part of Taubenhouse’s musical expression since he was a child. To record a solo piano album, you have to consider the entire evolution of the piano and those who developed a massive cannon of work by challenging and pushing the boundaries of the various keyboard instruments over centuries. “Playing solo piano connects me to the history and development of the instrument both musically and pianistically. No matter what style of music, when the piano is heard by itself, it functions as its own ensemble. Solo piano is an intimate and fascinating art form with infinite possibilities, and I am honored to offer you, the listener, Hope,” says Taubenhouse.
—Jason Paul Harman Byrne @ Red Cat Publicity
"In an age of short, rapidly shifting attention spans, when music fans surf streamed services to sample myriad song-bytes, hoping one will sustain their attention, Yaniv Taubenhouse’s Hope, the sixth album in his catalog but first solo effort, asks a longer listen.
The Israeli-American pianist —trained at Tel Aviv’s famed Thelma-Yellin arts high school, moving stateside 2009, settling in New York City in 2013— has a strong affinity and respect for the natural resonance of his instrument. Over years he has developed a style of lithely interlaced left- and right-hand parts: the low left-hand harmonies spilling out one note at a time in various figurations, never laying down the pulse but rather filling in cracks between higher melodic phrases, producing a thick yet transparent texture, like the combined warp and weft of woven fabric, each strand supporting without suppressing the other.
There are four covers —Cole Porter ’s “It’s Alright with Me”, Kenny Wheeler’s “Consolation”, Thelonious Monk’s “We See” and Henry Mancini’s “Two for the Road”— and six originals, including a three-part suite at the beginning, middle and end, respectively, of the album. An interesting aspect of Taubenhouse’s style is his predilection for chord substitutions within recurring progressions, inserting chromatic and/or tonal (i.e. Major/minor) variations, letting new tones sustain as more are added, leaving space to linger on these alternate colors. His right-hand melodies are relatively subdued, relaxed, often gently syncopated, part of the overall tapestry, though occasionally his ideas soar up, loitering in the upper register with sparkling lucidity and “We See” shows his skill at hardbop improvisation.
His distinctive treatment of the tunes permeates the project, lending cohesion to otherwise disparate material. So if you have got time, more than a sound-byte, for a leisurely walk around the park or long drive upstate, this album could be just the ticket for an extended, immersive, ultimately rewarding listening experience."
—Tom Greenland (January, 2023)
The New York City Jazz Records
"Musica come fonte di speranza e veicolo di resistenza. Di Yaniv Taubenhouse, esponente dell’eletta schiera dei pianisti israeliani di ultima generazione – da Shai Maestro a Yonathan Avishai avevamo già riferito sulle colonne del nostro giornale. L’occasione era l’uscita di «Roads», pregevole lavoro in trio sempre per l’etichetta di Jordi Pujol. Qui, però, le cose cambiano. Perché «Hope», sesto progetto da leader del nostro, è un disco per piano solo. Una sfida che il jazzista di Tel Aviv – da tempo attivo sulla scena di New York – affronta con disinvoltura e senza alcun timore reverenziale di confrontarsi con gli illustri precedenti del passato. Registrato alla vigilia del primo lockdown, e cioè nel febbraio di due anni fa, contiene un’ora abbondante di musica di alta qualità. Una dozzina di brani strutturati in tre capitoli, tra composizioni originali e riletture: da Cole Porter a Kenny Wheeler, passando per un’ispirata ripresa di Two For The Road di Henry Mancini e We See di Monk, quest’ultimo un vero riferimento per Taubenhouse. Tocco netto e colto, tecnica solida, fantasia nell’improvvisazione, capacità di narrare e di stare sempre dentro l’armonia e la melodia rendono fluido e piacevole l’ascolto del disco. È stato detto che, pur avendo uno stile definito, Yaniv fa trekking tra Oscar Peterson e Bill Evans, tra Hancock e Jarrett. Quasi volesse dimostrare che la storia del pianoforte jazz è una e una sola. E che lui cerca un posto al sole proprio all’interno di questo percorso."
—Ivo Franchi (12/12/2022)
"Comprenant douze morceaux parmi lesquels huit compositions originales, “Hope” (Fresh Sound New Talent / Socadisc) est le sixième album de Yaniv Taubenhouse. J’ai découvert son beau piano au Sunside en octobre 2015. Il venait de publier “Moments in Trio Vol. One”, premier disque d’une trilogie pour Fresh Sound New Talent avec Rick Rosato (contrebasse) et Jerad Lippi (batterie), et j’avais été séduit par ses harmonies lumineuses, ses notes bien choisies, une recherche de la beauté qu’un doigt de mélancolie rendait très attachante. Lorsque “Hope” a été enregistré en solo fin février 2020 en Arkansas, un virus menaçant et mortel commençait à se répandre. Cet opus n’a pourtant rien de sombre. Tel un baume contre la peur, ses mélodies sont même d’une douceur apaisante. Précédemment enregistrés en trio, Conversation et Prelude of the Ozarks séduisent par leur lyrisme. Le pianiste dispose d’une large palette de couleurs et fait souvent entendre de délicieux tapis de notes. Les trois mouvements d’une suite sont disséminés dans l’album, chacun d’eux en relation directe avec les deux autres tant sur le plan harmonique que mélodique. Quatre standards complètent ce programme. Parmi eux, It’s Alright With Me de Cole Porter et We See de Thelonious Monk, deux musiciens dont Yaniv Taubenhouse reprend souvent les thèmes. Prenez le temps d’écouter ce disque solaire et laissez-vous envelopper par ce piano délicat qui sait si bien raconter des histoires."
—Pierre de Chocqueuse (March, 2022)
"Le pianiste israélien basé à New York se met à nu dans ce très bel album solo enregistré en février 2020, en pleine pandémie, et qu’il a baptisé Hope, un an plus tard, selon la sensation qu’il avait que même si la pandémie semblait refluer, il y avait encore un long chemin à parcourir avant de revenir à la vie normale et qu’il ne pourrait se faire qu’avec une bonne dose d’optimisme et l’espoir d’un avenir meilleur et plus sage. Douze pistes, huit compositions personnelles, quatre reprises, de Cole Porter, Kenny Wheeler, Thelonious Monk et Henry Mancini. Et une musique qui transmet la beauté, la résilience, la créativité. Enregistrée en Arkansas sur un « magnifique » (c’est Yaniv qui le dit) Yamaha C7. Yaniv Taubenhouse y est d’une élégance rare, faite de légèreté, de profondeur et d’intimité."
—Jean-Claude Vantroyen (March 24, 2022)
"In the liner notes to Hope, Yaniv Taubenhouse's eloquently stated solo venture, the young pianist goes a long way to explain what brought him to the music he generously bequeaths us here. How one key besets the next and so on. How one tone leads to another and another. It might enhance the listening experience for some but, truth be simply told, listening repeatedly to Hope is all you need to gain insight to Taubenhouse's serene tone and intent.
Down the ages, great art has inspired us to celebrate even the most common of our everyday victories, and Hope is another iteration of that. It's an oasis, a thread of unison. The music presented here is a warm wellspring to bring yourself to, to drink, and let go the exhaustion that has begun to inhabit all our moments. It's a pure dance of hope and ideals stated with a simple elegance and eloquence, transporting you without friction into its quiet atmosphere.
Take for example, the pianist's 3/4 cotillion step reading of Cole Porter's effervescent "It's Alright With Me" from the 1953 musical Can Can. It could be the defining moment of the twelve pieces presented here if not for the other eleven. For each has its place in the natural order, so the brave resilience of "Once Upon a Time—Chapter One" begins with a feeling that you're entering into any of documentarian Ken Burns probing autopsies into the national psyche. The music moves you to look at the picture and see the past—all its wrongs and rights, all it's glory and tragedy, all the times private citizens didn't step up and decide without reserve what you can do to make the history of this flailing moment better. Kenny Wheeler's beguiling "Consolation" rolls off the pianist's fingers as fluidly as any of his own eight originals.
Perhaps one of the more honest tonal narratives to date, Hope never denies the promise and poetry inherent in us all. "On the Kookoo—for Dave Schnitter" eases in with a wayward sense of antiquity. "Conversation" is that and more, moving through its melodic space with a clear and concise vision. "Prelude to the Ozarks" leads to the bluesy hop of Thelonious Monk's quirky "We See," and what more need be said except that Hope never disappoints. And that's something that can't be said about so many things."
—Mike Jurkovic (February 1, 2022)