The Rotem Sivan Trio
By Kabir Sehgal
“The music for the album was a product of the shock and heartbreak I experienced when my girlfriend of more than seven years unexpectedly ended our relationship. I was lucky to have had the distraction of touring a lot that year, and I guess you could say I was on an emotional odyssey at the same time as the physical travel of the tour. These songs were a part of that journey for me—in a way, they represent different points in my path from feeling utterly destroyed to feeling like a complete human being again.” –Rotem Sivan
Originally from Israel, jazz guitar master Rotem Sivan has become a popular fixture in the New York jazz scene, while also regularly touring Europe and South America and playing at numerous prestigious jazz festivals. Antidote is Sivan’s second trio album with bassist Haggai Cohen Milo and drummer Colin Stranahan, and his fourth release overall since 2013. This is the first time the trio has used separation in the studio, which allowed Sivan “to mix in a range of elements from other music genres.”
Knowing the genesis of this album, it is hard to avoid making connections between certain elements of the music and Sivan’s emotional state, which adds artistic depth to the project. Yet even without factoring in the album’s deep personal significance to the artist, Antidote is an intensely rewarding listening experience from beginning to end. The classic jazz foundation is always present, but the tracks veer boldly from one style influence to another, and Sivan’s brilliantly idiosyncratic guitar work is mesmerizing, providing the unifying force that carries us eagerly from song to song.
Each track has its own appealingly distinct musical and emotional character. For example, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, with silken vocals by (singer’s name), may be the jazziest rendition of this standard you will ever hear, whereas Antidote sounds very much like a journey begun in anguish, and Reconstruction is an instrumental odyssey with a dramatically abrupt, question mark ending.
Other wonders: The focal point of Aloof is an ingenious bass solo that conjures up the song’s titular emotional distance, and Sun Song feels like an incantation joined to a primal, rhythmic pulse. The trio’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love is rendered as a delicate jazz lullaby, and For Emotional Use Only—perhaps the most tangibly personal track on the album, is melancholy, meditative, and utterly transfixing. By the time you reach the last note of the evanescent coda to the work, Bruchim Ha Nimtzain, I guarantee you will hit replay like I did, just to be sure you didn’t dream the whole thing.
–Kabir Sehgal is a GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY Award winning producer.