Oded Tzur, "Translator's Note" (Enja)
It's an old reviewer's trope. When faced with something that's brand new but reminiscent of one of an art form's giants, you call it "the 21st Century (fill in the blank.)"
So help me though, you couldn't blame the international jazz critic who called the quartet of the sensational tenor saxophonist Oded Tzur, the Coltrane Quartet of the 21st century. Tzur's sound varies from the sweet softness of Charles Lloyd to the telegraphic virtuosity of Rudresh Mahanthappa (and with almost as much influence from Indian classical music as Mahanthappa and, of course, Coltrane once upon a time.)
The piano of Shai Maestro rises and falls with a grandeur entirely different from McCoy Tyner's but, in its own way, massive and enveloping. Drummer Ziv Ravitz doesn't have the polyrhythmic thunder of Elvin Jones but it too brings rhythmic immensity to modal simplicity.
In other words, the aesthetic plan of Tzur's group shares DNA with the quartet of John Coltrane, one of the most influential musicians in jazz history. But, at the same time, this music is entirely different in technique and climate and extra-musical overtones.
In the place of Coltrane's avowed spirituality, Oded Szur considers himself a storyteller as much as musician. So that makes his music on "Translator's Note" a supposed relative to the story he tells in the notes. It isn't really but you understand what he's doing. In the way that Coltrane found the deepest possible kinship to religious devotion in a record like "A Love Supreme," Tzur is finding a kinship just as deep and just as simple in essence with poetry and storytelling.
The result is music of extraordinary power and beauty and, hallelujah, stunning 21st century originality. He came from Tel Aviv and he's one of the most exciting musicians to come along in a long time.
4 stars (out of four)