Anthony Coleman / Our Beautiful Garden is Open

anothing Tzadik cover Anthony Coleman
Our Beautiful Garden Is Open
Tzadik TZ 7159, 2002


I can see Anthony Coleman sitting at the piano, pounding on the keys, a latter day hipster, as I saw him last fall at the Ashkenaz festival in Toronto. The are played intensely as he transforms Jewish themes and ideas into something, well, jazz with a Sephardic tinge. Indeed, although this CD is not credited to "Sephardic Tinge," the title he has given to previous trio work on Tzadik (and given to his last collaboration with Street and Sarin on the label), it feels like an extension of those earlier Sephardic-tinged conversations.

When I listen to Coleman's music I find that it touches something in me that responds in ways I don't usually hear jazz. Sometimes, as I listen to the slow, contemplative space in a piece such as "Like Trees, Like Leaves...." I am reminded of him talking about his work on Claudia Heuermann's "Sabbath in Paradise" where he talks about single intense notes as being "oy", a Jewish response to being (paraphrasing from memory). His treatment of the traditional "Et Dodim" extends the same sort of space, with clusters of notes exploring, wandering, running. The same can be said, but more slowly and more carefully contemplatively about the title song. This, however, is not an "oy," rather careful exploration and creation; less reaction and more coming to know and trying to tell.

On "Nani Nani", the bass feels out the melody of a traditional child's lullaby as Coleman improvises around the melody on piano, ending on a questioning note. "Youkali" is a more straightforward, albeit again, less pounding and more exploratory, questioning, interpretation of the Kurt Weill tune. On the traditional Sephardic "Scalerica de Oro," however, there is a more pounding opening, leading to more intense clusters of notes exploring the piece.

Overall, this is a lovely continuation of the Sephardic Tinge work. Quieter, less dissonate that his work with, say, the Self-Haters, "Our Beautiful Garden Is Open" is Jewish, and especially Sephardic music considered in the light of 2002, as played by a brilliant pianist, supported by an equally adept rhythm section. This is not shredded memory of childhood Jewish sounds. Rather, it is one of the very rare Tzadik recordings that seems truly "Radical Jewish Culture" in the sense of listening, playing, and transforming Jewish sources heard as an adult, along with the sounds around us, and creating something new worth listening to.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 8/2/03

Personnel this recording:
Anthony Coleman: piano
Ben Street: bass
Michael Sarin: drums


  1. Detritus (Anthony Coleman) 4:26
  2. Like trees, like leaves (Anthony Coleman) 3:48
  3. El sueño de la hija del rey (trad. Sephardic) 4:10
  4. Et dodim (trad. Sephardic) 4:47
  5. Our beautiful garden is open (Anthony Coleman) 9:12
  6. There is nothing to be done (Anthony Coleman) 3:48
  7. Nani Nani (trad. Sephardic) 4:17
  8. Youkali (Kurt Weill-Roger Fernay) 5:54
  9. Scalerica de Oro (trad. Sephardic) 3:34
  10. Adon Haslichot (trad. Sephardic) 5:00

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