Avi Wisnia: Something New

Avi Wisnia: Something New
New York pianist Avi Wisnia recorded his acoustic debut EP in his father’s synagogue. For his debut full length, Something New Wisnia hires a band and ups the recording budget to surprisingly positive results.
When I think of jazzy male pianists there is a fairly short list that comes to mind. As a matter of fact, it is a list of one: Jamie Cullum. Avi Wisnia does not do anything to disspell Cullum comparisons; in fact, his decisions seem to welcome them. Like Cullum, Wisnia plays the type of jazz that has cross over appeal. The album’s tongue-in-cheek first single, “Rabbit Hole” starts off with some sexual innuendos before becoming a tale of “where did our love go”. Like all good Disney-esque alegories, the tale has a happy ending and the two rabbits rediscover their love. While the song is lyrically predictable and childlike, Wisnia’s vocal performance and the band’s musical virtuosity makes up for it.
Like Cullum, Avi Wisnia throws a few covers on the album as if to somehow say to listener “just because I play jazz does not mean I still think it is the 1930s”. To prove it, Wisnia covers “Love Song” by The Cure and TLC‘s “No Scrubs”. Both covers are done well, but “No Scrubs” has a little more of a tongue-in-cheek feel than “Love Song” which appears to be done in complete seriousness.
When Wisnia is not being goofy or covering songs is when he really shines. On songs like “New Year” and “I Wish That I Could Stop Writing Songs About You”, Wisnia writes heart-string tugging songs about love that really stand out. On “Nao E Coisa”, Wisnia and company execute a bossa-nova style that reminiscent of Stan Getz‘ classic “Girl From Ipanema”.
Overall, I really liked Something New. Wisnia proves he is well educated in the art of vocal jazz as well as pop. The variety of styles he employs all seem to highlight his best attributes. Jamie Cullum better watch out, Avi Wisnia is coming.
Rating: 8.8/10
MP3: Avi Wisnia “No Scrubs”
Buy: iTunes