The morning sun casts a bright glow over a field, a cover photo that captures the essence of Sunrise (Origin Records, 2012), by the Amit Friedman Sextet.

The session is part ambient, part fusion, all good. Friedman plays tenor and soprano saxophones, plus flute on one track. The rest of the band consists of Amos Hoffman on oud and guitar, Omri Mor on piano, Gilad Abro on bass, Amir Bresler on drums and Rony Iwryn on percussion. The string ensemble of Chen Shenar and Avner Kelmer on violins, Noam Haimovitz Weinschel on viola and Maya Belzitsman on cello contribute to some selections.
As if representative of dawn, “Sunrise” begins slowly, almost unnoticeable. One can almost see the faint glow of pre-dawn as the soprano welcomes a new day, backed softly by the accompaniment. Gradually, the sky lightens, and dark red transitions to orange and eventually bright yellow. The strings add an elegant touch.

“Or” has a similar, slow start, but once things warm up, the band gets into a swinging groove. Friedman switches to tenor for this selection. Bresler shows out a little bit, playing underneath the leads of Friedman and Mor. The middle passes inspire much finger snapping and toe tapping.

The strings are more involved in “Ups & Downs,” a song that fuses the compositional qualities of classical music with the freedom of expression offered by jazz. Friedman breaks out the flute for this one.

Friedman has collaborated with a number of international performers, including Itai Kriss, Yotam Zilberstein and Peter Bernstein. He was musical director for Tonight with Lior Shlein, the leading talk show on Israeli television.

Friedman composed 11 of the 12 tracks. Tamar Eisenman, who co-wrote the title song, provides vocal on a second, shorter rendition at the end of the set.