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.