Long Ride Back - Sarel River
  1. Home Alone
  2. Main St. Fugue
  3. Back in Town
  4. Long Ride Back
  5. Are We There Yet
  1. Tales from the Dark Side
  2. Misery in the Box
  3. Stormy Tuesday
  4. Winter in Budapest

Long Ride Back is a guitar/organ Trio album led by Sarel River. Recorded in 2018, it is his 3rd album, which he describes as “the story of my musical journey from 20 years ago until now.”

The Israeli-born guitarist studied at Berklee and soon thereafter made his mark on the New York City jazz scene. On “Long Ride Back” he is backed by organist Ron Oswanski and drummer Marcello Pellitteri, both of whom have an impressive list of artists they have accompanied. The album has 9 original tracks, all composed by River.

The set begins with a Monk-esque blues called “Home Alone” and right away you can tell that Sarel River is improvising from the heart and spontaneously without pre-conceived ideas. The second tune “Main St. Fugue” might have sounded like it was from an Italian street-corner as Oswanski plays some wonderful accordion, but the melody is much more complex, in a ‘Bach meets Monk’ style (to paraphrase River) after which is some inspired soloing over familiar-sounding chord changes.

The album’s title track is a laid-back swing containing an original melody, again over familiar-sounding chord changes and some inspiring soloing by River and Oswanski. River uses a slightly distorted tone on “Are We There Yet” which helps achieve a funky-edge to contrast with the straight-ahead swing sections in which he uses a clean sound. Overall, the tune has 3 different, yet compatible, grooves, in and out of which the Trio weaves effortlessly.

“Stormy Tuesday” has a wonderful harmonic minor vamp over which the band can really stretch, notably in the drum solo. And the album is brought to a close with a beautiful, pensive chord melody on one of the most compelling melodies of the entire program, “Winter in Budapest,” which takes a relatively simple motif through some lovely chord changes.

Throughout “Long Ride Back,” River and his Trio explore quite a bit of territory and each displays a unique voice, yet the end result is a cohesive, solid set of swinging jazz. We look forward to hearing a lot more from Sarel in the near future.


Dennis Winge is a pro guitarist and teacher living in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.


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