Shauli Einav Quartet's first set at Max of Eastman Place on Wednesday night was among the more traditional jazz performances I've heard at the festival so far. While this isn't exactly my style, the musicianship was impeccable, and the overall vibe was suave and sexy.
An Eastman School of Music alumnus, Einav's delivery on the tenor and soprano saxes was silky smooth, but as good as he was, pianist Nitzan Gavrieli stole the show with a flawless knack for melody and intuitive phrasing that was seductive.
Ultimately, the quartet's tight, downtown jazz had just the right combination of swagger and musical sensitivity.
Check out Shauli Einav Quartet at shaulieinav.com.
The Miami-based quartet Electric Kif makes funk-rock fusion with big jam band vibes. During its first set at Anthology, this was a band that was heavy on the groove, and played "in the pocket": rhythmic expressivity was just as important as the melody.
Keyboardist Jason Matthews was the main attraction here. At the heart of Electric Kif was his indefatigable energy and effusive playing style. Matthews frequently dropped huge Hammond organ riffs on the audience.
The band powered through songs such as "See You at the Corner" and "Little Louie" -- from its new album "Heist" -- but the best was saved for last with a blistering cover of Radiohead's brilliant "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi." Matthews and company gave a faithful rendition that managed to be more moody and explosively emotive than the recorded original.
You can find Electric Kif's music at electrickif.bandcamp.com.
The sound of synthesizers is at the core of Swedish sextet Klabbes bank -- an indie pop band utilizing jazz instrumentation to achieve a cinematic, post-rock sound that fans of Sigur Rós and Godspeed You! Black Emperor can get behind. The group touches on all those signifiers without being beholden to any of the
The horn section -- tenor sax, trombone, and clarinets -- produced a truly beautiful, versatile result: at various times contemplative, cacophonous, sultry even. Combined with the keyboards, the instruments gave off a retro-80's essence that was still somehow contemporary. Think the music of M83, with fjords.
Klabbes bank closed its second set at Lutheran Church of the Reformation with "I'm the Sea," my favorite cut from the 2015 album "Z." Practically a dance tune, this fleet composition features a sleek horn riff that would be as home in a club as in a concert hall.
Klabbes bank is a band that requires repeated listening, and yet it is completely accessible on the first try. Its performance was a prime example of what makes the Jazz Festival so great: the discovery of fascinating artists committed to their sound.
You can find the band at klabbesbank.com.