Ari Silberman

REVIEW: Ari Silberman “Beneath the Canopy”


Ari Silberman – Beneath the Canopy

This 11-cut debut by native Angeleno sax player/composer Ari Silberman features a retro-sounding nostalgic set that begins with “Waitin’” — it’s not vintage it just adheres to an old tradition filled with blossoming modern arrangements with a 50s Blue Note feel. Ari’s not trying to reinvent the wheel.

Josh Nelson (piano) has a light touch on the keys accompanied by the smooth cymbal tap of Christian Euman. The sax has bright tones & is more concerned with the melody line than showboating. It’s a sophisticated performance. Balanced throughout with excellent ensemble playing & just a few minor missteps.

Produced by Daniel Rotem, L.A. musician Ari (sax/multi-instrumentalist) tries to provide a pleasant personal message with this LP by exploring solitude, nature, self-confidence, relationships & musical influences. It’s a good introduction to these artists since they’re all prominently featured on Beneath the Canopy – (Drops March 31-Independent). 

Ari Silberman

Some of Ari’s shorter bridging attempts between songs aren’t as intense as what John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra did on “Birds of Fire” but it’s a nice way to segue between pieces. Ari is true to the tradition of his playing. Not as exuberant as the entertaining approach of Czech-born Israeli jazz saxophonist/composer Jaroslav Jakubovic but Ari’s “Augmented Blues,” allows him to unleash quite well & yet, Ari follows a more controlled mellow path as past sax legends have.


Ari’s sax has an appealing tone on this debut & he keeps the experimentation to a limit. No wild jazz fusion. On “Beneath the Canopy,” he manages to recreate 50s Beat Generation smoke that conjures images of a rainy 52nd St. night with taxi headlights, dudes with sunglasses on corners, pretty ladies smiling with lit Camels between their fingers & cool sax tones spilling from subterranean nightclubs. The Cinzano pours, swizzle sticks stir & no one’s drinking cranberry juice.

This music’s created with an air of imagery enough to motivate someone to write a novel.

Excellent musicians throughout. The recording is pristine. I hear every contribution without trying to. The boom of bass thumps, the drizzle of piano notes, the stoking cymbals & snare – all meticulous. The drums then accentuate to guide the sax back to the front lines seductively.

It’s a well-arranged set & a shining example of Ari’s ensemble. It never comes off as mannered. It’s a free-floating feel without chaos. Erin Bentlage offers a soul-satisfying groove on the 1934 ballad “If the Moon Turns Green.”

But Erin’s not Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald (yet). The inflections & phrasing are well placed but the rendition’s too breathy with an abundance of high notes that don’t accentuate the lyric properly. It needs tweaking. Erin has the voice but needs better guidance on a tune such as this.


Highlights – “Waitin’,” “Augmented Blues,” “Beneath the Canopy” & “Passing.”

Musicians – Josh Nelson (piano), Christian Euman (drums), Jake Leckie (bass), Erin Bentlage (vocals) & Brian Walsh (bass clarinet).

Color image from Ari’s website. CD @ Bandcamp &


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