Through the Rain, Eyal Lovett’s new album, is released by BERTHOLD records on February 26th 2022. Lovett, an Israeli jazz pianist now living in Denmark is accompanied by Aidan Lowe on drums and Jan Sedlák on bass. Lovett’s music is warm, lyrical and expressive. Many of the tracks, as he explains “talk of a journey, of hope, but also of darker issues.” The pianist is a storyteller. “During live concerts I always tell the audience the ideas behind the songs,” he says “then afterwards people tell me – it’s the music they connect to first, but the stories give a broader understanding of what’s going on.”
This new album was recorded live, though without an audience, and is a mixture of self-composed pieces and reworked Israeli melodies. One underlying theme is displacement. The track A Lost World – written by the pianist – was inspired by Stefan Zweig, the Austrian born Jewish writer who in 1934, as a result of the rise of the Nazis in Germany, emigrated first to England and then eventually to Brazil, “I read his autobiography ‘The World of Yesterday’”, recalls Lovett. “Zweig’s world had crumbled. In Brazil, 1944, he handed the manuscript to his publishers, then, together with his wife, committed suicide. They just couldn’t stand being refugees. Their world didn’t exist any more.”
Lovett regards his own situation as nothing like that of Zweig’s, but there are similarities. The pianist, who has also lived many years in Berlin talks of “not really belonging anywhere, I’m neither German nor Danish but back in Israel I don’t feel I belong either. For me the Israel I came from doesn’t really exist any more. Indeed, I haven’t been back to Israel for two years. It can be very stressful.” It is a recurring theme in his own compositions. In Don’t Lie, as he explains “the ongoing melody and counter melody tell all kinds of tales and go through different phases and harmonies but the answer is always the same. The inner voice says – be true to yourself, don’t lie.”
Lovett’s compositions deal mostly with living outside Israel. He wrote Teach Me About Leaves for his children whilst in Berlin. “The children would collect sticks and leaves and all kinds of junk and bring it home.” The title is from a Leonard Cohen poem “which is strange and psychedelic, there’s a moment when he has a dialogue with his dead wife, but the sound and the feeling gave me the idea for the song. Its about the naivety of children, seeing the world through their eyes, but the leaves become the struggle, something darker.”
In Through the Rain – quiet and beautiful, yet percussive – Lovett explores a difficult period in a relationship “…but if you manage to stay and find what keeps you together, then hopefully you come out the other side stronger.”
The pianist wrote Florentin, already recorded on his first album, as a happy and energetic song which also anchors live concerts. Florentin is an area near Jaffa in the south of Tel Aviv where he met his wife and used to live. The complex rhythms of the song recall the sounds of this once Sephardic Jewish area that attracted many younger residents and artists and whose often “bohemian” lifestyle co-exists alongside a garment district where Jewish and Arab wholesalers trade in furniture and clothing.
The adapted songs on the album are originally by well known Israeli singers and musicians and as Lovett admits “here, have a lot to do with sentimentalism. You could almost write homesick on the album cover.” In the process, Lovett celebrates the rich tradition of Israeli songwriting.
Hofim (The shore) is the first and last track on the album. The lyrics, written by Nathan Yonatan, describe “where the shore meets the land, or where you meet yourself.” A solo piano piece, the music is lyrical and reflective, moving between classical and jazz rhythms.
Shir Tishrey (Tishrey Song) was first performed by Chava Alberstein. Tishrey is the first month of the Jewish moon calendar falling September / October and “this is a song of hope and change when summer is over and the temperature levels drop. Farmers are happier because rain is due and the Jewish High Holidays are approaching.”
Ata Mitorer (Waking up) was written by the singer/songwriter Rona Kenan for her father Amos the well-known journalist and writer. “He had Alzheimer’s and it’s about waking in an empty bed, the pillow still warm, like a phantom memory – the demise of an impressive man.”
Ein Gedi was written by two teenagers in the 1950s about the Kibbutz on the Dead Sea, “a wonderful composition, their moment of inspiration about the special magic of the place. When I play these well-known songs,” reflects Lovett “I’m deeply moved. They go to my heart which is singing when I play them. They’re familiar and mean so much to me. I’m with the tune. I am the song.”
The trio perfectly captures the blend of classical, jazz, north African and Mediterranean music influences. The pianist enthuses about his long-time Australian drummer Aidan Lowe. “He’s been with me for ten years,” says Lovett “on all my albums and he’s the only drummer I can imagine playing the music. I’ve played with other more famous, great musicians, but Aidan has a unique sensitivity and musicality. He plays underneath the music. That’s hard for a drummer.” Jan Sedlák, the Czech bass player, is a recent addition to the ensemble. “I had a concert in Berlin and my regular couldn’t make it. Jan learnt everything by heart and we really understood each other. He grows and gets better every time we play. A very positive and determined young man.”
Lovett and his trio continue the storytelling tradition of the highly regarded previous album Beyond Good and Evil. Through The Rain is thoughtful, subtle and musically brilliant – soothing and balanced, yet surprising and full of new ideas. Jazz at its best.