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Hermon Mehari – A Change for The Dreamlike (2020)

Released in June of 2020, Hermon Mehari’s latest album, A Change for the Dreamlike offers a unique perspective from the artist who resides in Paris. The album gets off to a surprising start with the first track, Shenandoah offering a solitary solo trumpet, delivered with both clarity of tone and articulation. Lasting less than three minutes, Mehari holds the listener’s attention, as he goes up an octave from the original range of the stark melody, and fully displays his upper register, which is even more impressive than the low-mid-range.

Let’s Try This Again, featuring pianist Tony Tixier and Jeff Hill on drums, shows that Mehari’s trumpet playing is lyrical and melodious, although the individual recorded tracks of the collective instruments sounds as if like they’re not quite in sync with each other. On A Conversation with My Uncle, the melody is based on the voice of his African uncle, Tesfai Tsehaie. Arranged as a spoken word tone poem, Mehari carefully matched trumpet pitches to his uncle’s vocal inflection, highlighting the lyrical quality of his accent and articulation.

All Alone, featuring Kae Dilla on electric keyboards, is a slinky contemporary outing with Mehari playing warm tones and Dilla serving up soft Fender Rhodes chord sequences as well as sensual synthesizer solos. Unfortunately, the bass and drum track again sound as if they’re not quite in sync with each other.

Eritrea, featuring Peter Schlamb on vibes and piano, is probably the most lyrical of the album, while I Cry for Our People, is an instrumental trumpet ensemble piece with drummer, Ryan Lee playing a tight and funky syncopated backbeat. There is a great solo from Mehari on this one, showing his dexterity and sensitivity. The closing track, Dreamscapes, uses a warm synth patch as the central sonic template. The smooth chord progression, while enticing ends abruptly as you hear someone walking down the street humming to themselves. Maybe it was Herman Mehari clearly pleased with the results of his efforts.

—Wayne Goins

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