Eyal Vilner Big Band – Singin Uptown (ENG review)

Street Date June 14th 2024
Eyal Vilner Big Band - Singin Uptown

Sometimes you put a CD on your player and enjoy it from the very first notes, as is the case here. Indeed, Eyal Vilner and his Big Band offer us a dive into a futuristic past, drawing deeply from the history of jazz to present works of today. The ambiance is disorienting, with a sense of déjà vu for what is being offered.

Eyal Vilner’s work has always been influenced by the eras of jazz where the big band was not only in vogue but also deeply intertwined with dance. “I consider the Lindy Hop and Vernacular Jazz Dance as an important part of the roots of jazz. When I started exploring and learning these dances, it felt like it completed the picture for me and gave me a deeper understanding of the music, its tradition and history, and of the community from which it came,” says Vilner. “Jazz music and jazz dance are inseparable; they grew together, influenced, and inspired each other. Appreciating and immersing myself in this part of Black American culture has given me a deeper understanding of the music I fell in love with as a teenager.”

Naturally, such an album cannot be played in the regular programming of Bayou Blue Radio, but it will join the specialized shows that will give you a more comprehensive image of today’s jazz. This will happen in a few months, and we will tell you more soon. Imagine all the historical references that the musicians on this album possess.

The album’s title, Swingin’ Uptown, is a direct tribute to Harlem, where these dances were conceived and popularized. “Harlem is where it all started!” Vilner proclaims. “We are paying tribute to this birthplace by striving to create something new, original, and honest within the aesthetics of swinging jazz music.” To achieve this goal, the album features ten arrangements of pieces that lend themselves to dance or have the remarkable groove and feel that make them suitable for dancing. Additionally, Swingin’ Uptown presents six original compositions steeped in the style and tradition of the masters of groove and swing. By revitalizing the repertoire loved by musicians and dancers of the past while adding new works, Vilner demonstrates that this creative overlap is not only historically important but also thriving today.

With a slight “tea dance” atmosphere, sometimes between cartoon music and a form of jazz that borrows its noble notes from blues, the lines blur, giving the feeling of being at the beginning of the last century, in a smoky bar, imagining the musicians on a small stage, the singer in front, smiling, but not too much, inspired, certainly. You could almost see Humphrey Bogart passing by with a cigarette. This is the setting from which this album draws its sources, or perhaps even earlier in history, a history reshaped like the best novelists do. Undoubtedly, this album will make you want to dance, so don’t hold back. This charming music invites you with every note, to the point of becoming nostalgic, reopening old dusty books, and taking out grandpa’s vinyl records. Let’s once again salute this beautiful crew of passionate musicians who make this music so fascinating that it becomes one of the “Indispensable” albums of this season.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, June 9th 2024

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