Oz Live – Oz
When you hear thick guitar licks and fast chords like those played by guitarist Oz, you think of someone who grew up listening to guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix, Peter Frampton, and Jimmy Page. When you hear how his songs flow into each other and extend in to several-minute long improvisations, you think of someone who cites the Grateful Dead, Phish, or even The Doors as influences. One thing is for sure, you don't immediately think that the grooves you are hearing are coming from someone who calls Israel home, and has only lived in New York City since 1996.
But such is the story of Oz Noy. He made a name for himself in Israel, playing situations ranging from rock, blues, and jazz. A staple on New York City's local music scene, Oz has shared both the stage and studio with acts like Harry Belafonte, Toni Braxton, Phoebe Snow, and newcomer Gavin Degraw.
It seems to be that his favorite New York venue is the renowned Bitter End. He plays the bulk of his live shows there, and chose the comfortable stage to record his first solo effort, Oz Live, in four sets spanning two months in 2002. The only exception is the final track, "Cissy Strut," recorded in December of the same year. The result is a powerful mix of grooves and slow jams, dispersed evenly throughout the album. Though the CD was recorded live, oddly enough, there is little noise from the audience between tracks. Of course, this could be the result of editing on the producer’s part, but as he is playing, those in attendance don’t even make a peep. In Oz’s favor though, this could be because they are so mesmerized by his talent.
The opening track, "Damn, This Groove!" lives up to its name perfectly. A little over six minutes just isn't long enough to satisfy. Oz has crisp riffs, and when you add them to James Genus's funky bass lines and Keith Carlock's rhythms, you are thrust into a song that just shouldn't stop. Unfortunately, it does. Fortunately, there are lots more where that came from. Oz slows things down a little just about every other song, and this division of pace works well for his music.
Oz has abandoned lyrics on this recording, and when an artist chooses that route, it's hard not to wonder how they come up with titles for their songs. Here, Oz seems to let the songs speak for themselves. The aforementioned "Damn, This Groove!" certainly does, and "Get Down" and "Natural Flow" do as well. No cheesy attempts at creativity here.
The one thing that most will request of Oz after giving Oz Live a few spins is that he spread his wings outside of New York City and into the rest of the United States. But why stop there? Oz seems to have traveled back to a time when music was so genuine that the rest of the world deserves to hear it.