I Forgot What You Taught Me | Cat No: RD 4605 | Release Date: 12th February 2008
Sam Barsh is one of those delightful free spirits, one who agrees to pose naked on the back cover of his debut CD save for a strategically placed melodica covering his butt. His music is cheeky as well, which seems to be dedicated to his ridgid but well-meaning music teachers. A former member of teh AVishai Cohen Trio, Barsh has created a quirky-but-endearing pop-jazz CD with many pleasing moments perfect Sunday morningwith a cup of joe. ‘Plans Change’ and ‘This Is The Song’ are simpel and enjoyable, but teh real fun begin with songs like ‘Wake Up and Smile’, Barsh’s melodica answering Tim Collin’s vides work.
Throw in some dub (‘George Dub’), easy sway (‘nuTrance’) and the mesmerizing loop of ‘Jew Hefner’, and you have one fine contemporary jazz CD, lean and so fun to listen to. Don’t know if his jazz teachers would approve, but I Forgot What You Taught Me is a hell of a sweet listen. Holding down the bottom admirably are Ari Folman-Cohen on bass and Jaimeo Brown on drums.
Pianist Sam Barsh, who until recently has been best known for his work as a sideman for such eclectic jazz artists as Avishai Cohen and Zach Brock and the Coffee Achievers, will release I Forgot What You Taught Me, on February 12 on Razdaz Recordz, the five year-old label founded by the internationally acclaimed bassist/composer and band leader Avishai Cohen and his manager Ray Jefford.
To mark his Razdaz debut, Barsh penned one of his signature rhymes:
After years of chiseling down my sound, I now bring to the table
My debut set of music on the RazDaz Recordz label.
It’s an amalgam of my influences, both musical and not
No one word describes it, but if I had to pick one, it’d be ‘hot’
So what does it sound like, you ask? well…
It’s like getting in a hot tub as the water warms your body
Massaged by air jets while chilling out next to scantily clad hotties.
It will beam you up and takes you places, just like Star Trek’s Scotty
Pack a punch but go down smooth much like a Jameson Hot Toddy.
So to keep it short and keep it really real,
This record was made to make you feel.
To make you groove and sing along, a soundtrack to your night or day.
And whether you love it or whether you don’t, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
I Forgot What You Taught Me features the quartet known as The Sam Barsh band: Barsh on piano, keyboards and melodica, Tim Collins (Christian McBride, Buster Williams, Harvie S.) on vibes, Ari Folman-Cohen (Soulive, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe) on bass and Jaimeo Brown (Stevie Wonder, A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, and Bobby Hutcherson) on drums. The CD’s 13 selections were all composed by Barsh, with the exception of the hypnotic ‘George Dub,’ which was written by the entire band.
‘I have a lot of musical interests, and many of them get fulfilled by the sideman gigs that I do, so I wanted my band to showcase me in my own element,’ commented Barsh.’I decided on all the members of the band because I had played sessions with all of them where we just started playing without calling any tunes or charts and the VIBE was so strong. All of these guys recognize that a cohesive band sound is way more powerful than any hip shit they may think they’re playing individually. These cats can lose themselves and understand the nuances of consistent groove and ambient playing as well as soloing.’
Infused with a strong sense of the wry humor that permeates all of Barsh’s work and marked by the unmistakable chops that drew artists such as current Grammy nominee Emily King, R&B and pop hit-makers such as Boyz II Men, Bobby McFerrin, and The Brand New Heavies, and jazz great such as Cassandra Wilson, Branford Marsalis, Rez Abbasi, and Ben Monder (among others) to tap his talents, I Forgot What You Taught Me is a funky blend of jazz, R&B and ambient grooves that is as much about vibe and feeling as it is about melody.
‘Sam is a brilliant pianist and an incredible performer,’ says Avishai Cohen,’but what makes him most attractive is his beautiful way of always being himself. On this recording, you dive into Sam’s world and forget yourself.’
Barsh grew up in the Chicago area, and has been playing music since the age of 4, starting on piano, and expanding to organ, synthesizers, vintage keyboards, and melodica. From 2003 through 2006, Barsh was a member of the renowned Avishai Cohen Trio, with whom he recorded 3 CDs and a live DVD. He can also be seen regularly with violinist Zach Brock and the Coffee Achievers, with whom he has toured and recorded two CDs and an upcoming, live CD/DVD.
In addition, he has performed with a diverse group of notable artists throughout his career In addition, he has performed with a diverse group of notable artists throughout his career, including Cassandra Wilson, Jeff Parker, Boyz II Men, Bobby McFerrin, The Brand New Heavies, Robin Eubanks, Debbie Friedman, Branford Marsalis, Lonnie Plaxico, Christophe Schweizer, Dave Samuels (of Spyro Gyra), Ku’umba Frank Lacy, The Mighty Blue Kings, Omar Edwards, Mino Cinelu, Rez Abbasi, Kenny Wollessen, Curtis Watts, Nguyen Le, Ben Monder, Hans Glawischnig, Todd Carey, and many others.
I Forgot What You Taught Me is the first of three releases that Razdaz Recordz will release in the coming months. On March 25, guitarist and oudist Amos Hoffman will release Evolution, his debut for the label, and on May 6, Avishai Cohen will follow up his 2007 live recording, As Is…Live At The Blue Note with the release of Gently Disturbed.
Sam Barsh – Keyboards, Piano, Melodica
Tim Collins – Vibes
Ari Folman-Cohen – Bass
Jaimeo Brown – Drums
As much about subtle textures, tweaked genres, crafty beats, and slyly deconstructed song forms as it is about jazz, I Forgot What You Taught Me might underwhelm the first couple of listens. Indeed, it could be mistaken for smooth jazz by the unwary or inattentive, although it is anything but that. Still, give it a chance; its multifold charms eventually reveal themselves to those with big ears.
The genius behind this cunning tour de force, Sam Barsh, held the piano chair in the highly regarded Avishai Cohen (the bass player, not the unrelated trumpeter of the same name) Band for several years. He evidently learned a lot on the bandstand, as well as from his teachers, although this disc’s title acknowledges that he wasn’t always the perfect student and often displayed a madcap streak pretty much everywhere in evidence on this remarkable session.
Take his melodica playing, for example. This exotic instrument, sounding like a cross between a harmonica and a concertina, has mainly been used for its novelty quality. Barsh has more serious intentions in mind. Part John Wolf Brennan, part Michael Moore, he does this slurred-tone thing on it (‘Between Dead and Alive’) I’ve never heard before, imbuing the tune with an entirely apposite danse macbre vibe perfectly suited to its Crescent City All Souls Day mood. Or take ‘Harriet Nyborg,’ with its robotic feel (Nyborg = cyborg?) on which he’s content to play a simple, almost monotonous-sounding vamp while the drums and vibes do all the heavy lifting. Then there’s ‘George Dub,’ a sleepy-eyed reggae number that somehow summarizes the genre even as it transcends it. Not to mention ‘NuTrance,’ which accomplishes the near-impossible feat of redeeming this hopeless genre, and the entrancing ‘Rainy Day Jam,’ the unlikely melding of Monk and funk. Then there’s the free-floating wackiness of ‘Rainy Day Loop,’ which goes nowhere but ends up stuck like a burr in one’s mind.
Never dull, almost always compelling, I Forgot What You Taught Me manifests some of the finest leftfield jazz of the new millennium.
I Forgot What You Taught Me
With I Forgot What You Taught Me, Sam Barsh has put together a CD of beautiful, light jazz.
Not smooth jazz, however, with its accompanying overproduction and blandness. Barsh has a light touch on electric piano and similar keyboards. Tim Collins plays vibes, a soft instrument itself, and Ari Folman-Cohen on bass and Jaimeo Brown on drums appropriately stay in the background with subtle rhythmic backing. Barsh sets his keyboards to sound much like vibes, with a smooth tone and reverb, so that there is a consistent sound throughout the 13 tracks.
‘Between Dead & Alive’ and ‘Plans Change (reprise)’ make nice use of the rarely used melodica, an instrument that is blown into like a horn, but uses a keyboard to produce notes.
The delicate and ethereal melodies stand out here. That, and the picture of Barsh on the flip side of the CD sleeve, naked from the back except for a keyboard covering his nether parts. But you will probably buy the CD for the songs.
‘I Forgot What You Taught Me’ ( Released: 12th February 2008)
Hipster keyboard man checks in with a pleasant band in a box date that zips along in a deceptively cool fashion. Easy on the ears, this is simply a snappy little date that has got me looking ahead to summer. It’s that kind of music.
The Celebrity Cafe
Reviewer: Jessica Chung
Sam Barsh’s debut album, I Forgot What You Taught Me, technically falls under jazz, but also sounds similar to trance music at times. Barsh plays keyboards and melodica on the album, with Gene Coye on drums and Gabe Noel on bass. The album’s 13 tracks have a distinctness to their melodies that allows you to distinguish one from another. The eighth track, ‘Between Dead and Alive,’ particularly sounds unique from the others, with the introduction of what sounds like harmonica in it, as well as lower notes being played in the song. Barsh, who has written songs and also wrote a rhyming description of his new album and its sound on his Web site, shows a humorous and clever use of language in the song title, ‘Jew Hefner,’ on I Forgot What You Taught Me. The opening track, ‘Welcome to Barsh’s World (Intro),’ has a surprisingly laid-back sound and feel to it, but it nicely eases you into the rest of the CD. All in all, one hopes Barsh follows through on the promise of releasing more of his music implied by the closing track’s title, ‘Goodbye For Now (Outro).’
Written by Mark Saleski
Published April 01, 2008
This album had two strikes against it before I heard a single note: 1. the almost nude shot on the back cover, Barsh covering what mama gave him with a melodica and 2. keyboards. OK, the photo isn’t really a big deal. I mean, obviously Barsh has quite the sense of humor and doesn’t take himself very seriously. Keyboards? I can mostly live without them in jazz, especially when they take on the lead role. (Yes, there are exceptions: Herbie, Chick, etc. Please, ignore my inconsistency here.)
So what won me over?
Very simple: Sam Barsh’s music made me want to shake what mama gave me. Dang, how embarrassing.
I Forgot What You Taught Me is a big chunk of genre-crossing music that tosses a bunch of musics (jazz, funk, pop, reggae) into a pot of simmering insistent groove juice. Hmmm, that was a sort of infomercial description. Maybe Barsh’s own words can do better?
Its like getting in a hot tub as the water warms your body Massaged by air jets while chilling out next to scantily clad hotties. It will beam you up and takes you places, just like Star Trek’s Scotty Pack a punch but go down smooth much like a Jameson Hot Toddy.
Hmmm… well, I told you he doesn’t take himself seriously.
The tunes seem to fall into two categories: hard groove workouts (‘nuTrance,’ ‘Jew Hefner,’ ‘Wake Up And Smile’) and jazz tunes who wish they were hard groove workouts (‘Rainy Day Jam,’ ‘Harriet Nyborg,’ ‘This Is The Song’). Underneath either category is Barsh’s band ‘ Jaimeo Brown/drums, Tim Collins/vibes, Ari Folman-Cohen/bass ‘ who make the groove seem effortless.
Without a doubt, my favorite tune here is ‘Georgia Dub,’ with its down-low burn, and ‘Rainy Day Loop’, the latter being a prime example of lopsided groove that can just barely hold itself together. This and the complement of I Forgot What You Taught Me come together to remind me of a looser version of the instrumental side of Steely Dan. Lots of fun, is what if boils down to.
So here I’ll fess up and be a man about Sam Barsh: he puts together some interesting music (despite my keyboard problem), and, well… he wasn’t completely nude in that picture for the back of the CD ‘ he was wearing shoes and a hat.