Although he is not as well-known as his talent deserves, Eldad Tarmu has long been a top vibraphonist.  Born and raised in Southern California and originally a drummer and percussionist before switching to the vibes (his mentor was Dave Pike), Tarmu spent time living in Israel and was the head of a jazz department of a university in Romania before settling in New York. He has performed in over 25 countries, worked with such notables as Freddie Hubbard, Frank Morgan, Ernie Watts, and Poncho Sanchez, and led ten albums of his own.

Tarmu Jazz Quartet features Tarmu debuting nine of his originals with a group that also includes alto and soprano-saxophonist Adam Hutcheson, bassist Sam Bevan, and drummer Cengiz Baysal. While the compositions are often complex, its rhythms make the music fairly accessible while inspiring solos that are purposeful, concise and full of fire.

The inventive ensembles of “Café Sole,” colorful vibes-soprano unison on “Self-Inflicted Wounds, the rhythm section’s witty pattern on “Beneath The Gloss And Shine” and the colorful strut “Kinda Elegant” are among the highlights of this set’s first half. Later highpoints include the wistful “A Tale Of Dirt And Flowers,” and the forceful “Mating Calls.” Throughout this project, the four musicians listen closely to each other and their mutual communication is pretty spontaneous. The arranged ensembles and spontaneous solos are very complementary to each other and lead to more than its share of surprising moments.

Tarmu Jazz Quartet is an excellent place to start in discovering the musical mastery of Eldad Tarmu.

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian