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Ori Dagan (twitter @oridaganjazz) seems to me like a man on a mission. With a rich baritone voice, he has tried to craft a jazz album that is both hip and playful, and, at the same time, a genuine jazz album, complete with standards and heavyweight musicians, and some original tracks as well. Dagan’s album, Less than Three, is a tasty stew of standards and originals with a classic Hebrew song thrown into the mix, and one from his own pen: Nu Az Ma, a call for peace of truly universal dimensions.
After an opener of Madonna’s Lucky Star (yep, THAT Madonna CP ), which reminded my friend Sophie of a 60’s beat poetry track, with minimalistic base and percussion and funky vocals, Dagan moves to his mother tongue with Eretz Zavat Halav, a Hebrew song featuring the magnificent Jane Bunnett on soprano sax. Bunnett is a true jazz superstar, a multiple Juno award winner and multiple Grammy nominated musician and bandleader who has worked combining Cuban music with new and avant-garde jazz. There was a house down the street from me in west-end Toronto where people told me Jane Bunnett had moved. I used to hear her sax emanating out into the street from a third-story window. It was truly wonderful.
[If there’s any doubt about Ori’s capabilities as a live-on-the-spot performer this youtube video should alleviate. CP]
The material on Dagan’s CD is eclectic. I’ve already mentioned the Madonna cover. There’s also a totally scat version of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance that is exceedingly fun and features some great scatting too. Not everybody can do that you know. And he throws in some very sensitive renditions of Elton John/Bernie Taupin (This is your Song) and Lloyd Webber/Rice (I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You), to demonstrate a surprising range that can cover modern hits to a cutting, up-tempo Sweet Georgia Brown to round off the album.
This is a very dexterous record featuring a range of styles, and Dagan’s voice is rich, and according to my friend Sophie, sexy. She’d go see him “in a minute.” –CD