CD Review: Andres Boiarsky - Crosstalk

Andres Boiarsky - Crosstalk
(One Trick Dog Records. UPC: 888295039475. CD Review by Andy Boeckstaens)

Born in Buenos Aires in 1957, tenor saxophonist Andres Boiarsky is a truly international musician. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London, returned to Argentina in 1982, moved to New York in 1988, and relocated to Shanghai 20 years later. During his 35 year career, he has travelled around the world and recorded with Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Heath and Nancy Wilson.

Boiarsky’s last CD under his sole leadership was in 1996: “Into the Light” featured the likes of Claudio Roditi and George Cables. Crosstalk is not so star-studded, but the core quartet includes the celebrated drummer Tommy Campbell, who toured with Sonny Rollins, the Mingus Big Band and, for many years, Dizzy Gillespie.

There’s a joyous, bluesy swing to the bustling, medium-fast opener, Feels Like Love (Must Be Rain). Boiarsky has a big, welcoming tone, a bit like Stanley Turrentine, and creates high hopes for the session. Keyboard player Roy Assaf follows on with a spectacular, Tyner-esque solo. His assertive spirit permeates the selections that follow, but few have the power or impact of the first. Some pieces have a lighter, slightly dated touch.

Cool You! (Mei’s Tune) starts with electric piano, and is notable for Campbell’s sensitive brushwork. His fine solo on the hard-hitting Instant Combustion is beautifully recorded, defining little nuances from every part of the drum kit. The rhythm section is completed by the authoritative bass player Curtis Ostle, who is featured towards the end of Chick Corea’s attractive High Wire – The Aerialist.

Two guests are engaged on five tracks, although they do not play together. Erica Lee’s half-spoken, whispered, echoey, bi-lingual vocals develop into multi-tracked hysteria on The Chase. This may appeal to some, but I find it out of place here. Lee also performs – much more convincingly - The Moon Represents My Heart, a song considered to be a classic of modern popular Chinese music. The other addition is guitarist Ed Cherry, who worked with people as diverse as Jimmy Smith and Henry Threadgill. I remember seeing him alongside Campbell in Gillespie’s combo of the early ‘80s. Cherry’s mellow chime on Dou Dou, and his incisive contribution to the funky Rachel’s Step are really ear-catching. Better still is Con Alma, a communicative duet with Boiarsky that demonstrates that, in the right hands, a simple set-up is hard to beat.

Ultimately, I felt I needed more of a sense of construction in Boiarsky’s solos, but he is a skilled player, he has a great sound, and his four compositions are robust. It’s good to have another CD led by him after a long hiatus, and Crosstalk offers a lot of enjoyable jazz.

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