Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews

Uri Sharlin & his Dogcat Ensemble – Back to the Woods – Folk Dune

An innovative world music ensemble with Israeli origins.

Published on October 22, 2013

Uri Sharlin & his Dogcat Ensemble – Back to the Woods – Folk Dune

Uri Sharlin – Dogcat Ensemble – Back to the Woods [TrackList follows] – Folk Dune FD002 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

(Uri Sharlin – accordion, Wurlitzer, piano; Gili Sharett – bassoon; Matt Darriau – bass clarinet; Kyle Sanna – guitars; Jordan Scannella, bass; Rich Stein & John Hadfield – percussion; Guests: Itai Kriss – flute, alto flute; Ze Mauricio – pandeiro; Michael Lavalle – zabumba)

Tel Aviv-born Uri Sharlin moved to New York City to study jazz piano and found himself playing in a cumbia band. On his next trip to Tel Aviv he ran into his old accordion teacher, who sold him his instrument. He found that the accordion was the key to putting his many musical influences all together. He says Israeli musicians are forced to be more flexible in their listening, growing up on Russian songs translated into Hebrew, then Arabic music that was translated, “and other things, all mashed up.” He brings this openness to his band Uri Sharlin and the DogCat Ensemble.

Sharlin is now a mostly self-taught accordion virtuoso, and leads his ensemble which is essentially a quartet with additional woodwinds. All seven musicians improvise at the same time in a sort of barely-controlled anarchy. In addition to the clear Israeli and South American/Brazilian influences, you’ll hear a strong Balkans folk music style here. “Dia #342” is by Hermeto Pascoal and illustrates the Brazilian side; Sharlin added the bassoon and bass clarinet for that one.  He feels that the thread of Brazilian music is the strongest in this entire album; he’s been to Brazil three times now. And “Monte Verde” is a tune about Costa Rica’s famous national park.

Back to the Woods is a most innovative instrumental world music album which owes part of its unique sound to the inclusion of classical instruments in the band.

Night Swim, Monte Verde, One for Frankie, Dia #342, The Real Dogcat, Mundau by Day, Mundau by Night, Don Quixote, Baiao

—John Henry

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