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Listening Session With Ben Ratliff: Sam Yahel's 'Hometown'

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Listening Session With Ben Ratliff: Sam Yahel's 'Hometown'

Listening Session With Ben Ratliff: Sam Yahel's 'Hometown'

Sam Yahel


"My dad makes me listen to jazz." Photo Credit: Josh Jackson/WBGO

After reading Felix Contreras' post, I'm looking ahead to my three-year old daughter hating jazz. I'm surprisingly okay with this possibility. I just want her to love music. That's a good primer for eventually getting the jazz message.

I must say, in her defense, that my girl does love the trombone. She's into wearing headphones and checking out tunes. She also loves to talk. I'm already advising against a career as a jazz journalist, radio personality or some chimera of the two. (But I'm all for women in jazz.)

This is supposed to be about Sam Yahel's new record. I'm getting there.

I haven't seen Sam Yahel since 2005's Toast of the Nation, when we broadcast Joshua Redman's Elastic Trio with Brian Blade. I distinctly remember that time at Yoshi's (the Jack London Square club in Oakland), and having to fill a minute of national airtime with him. We promoted the California broadcast to the rest of the country.

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After Sam inventoried the keyboards and electronic effects at his ready, I asked, "So what you're saying is this is not your father's jazz?"

Sam Yahel


Listening to Sam Yahel makes you wanna shout the two syllables of his last name in reverse order. Courtesy of the artist.

Sam Yahel recently released Hometown, a piano trio recording. Most jazz nerds know that Sam is a tremendous Hammond B-3 organ player, but the piano? How positively acoustic! This could be something that dads might like too. (Who doesn't like a nice John Lennon cover ... I mean, other than a backwards masking of "Revolution 9"?)

Ben Ratliff, music critic for the New York Times, shared his perspective on Sam Yahel during our most recent edition of The Checkout. Feel free to listen with us.

Listening Session With Ben Ratliff: Sam Yahel's 'Hometown'

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I wrote all this simply to say that this is a record I'm digging, and now that I'm a dad, I think about what a stupid question I asked Sam. "Your father's jazz" — pfft. Blame it on my youth.

See, I recently introduced my daughter to Sam Yahel's take on "Blue Pepper," originally from Duke Ellington's Far East Suite. Technically, she was listening to "her father's jazz," but I wasn't about to tell. She was far too busy enjoying it on the headphones.

Happy Father's Day.

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When not playing jazz piano, Sam Yahel and his (organ) trio are the opening act on Steely Dan's Rent Party '09 Tour.