From Billy Kerr - Saxophone Journal
Live In Paris
- Lew Tabckin Trio
Practically from the instant a musician decides to play jazz, the quest begins to find a personal voice. The process can sometimes take a lifetime; some individuals never really find one. To find a personal voice on more than one instrument is almost impossible, unless your name is Lew Tabackin.
Long one of the most assertive, hard-driving tenor players in jazz, his voice on that horn started with a much different timbre when he burst onto the New York jazz scene in the 1960s. Playing with bands led by Cab Calloway, Joe Henderson, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, Duke Pearson, and Maynard Ferguson, Tabackin's sound was lighter by comparison (though not a light sound by any other measure) and his playing was strongly influenced by John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. While a member of Calloway's band, Tabackin discovered Chuck Berry and began to incorporate Berry's sound and style into his own playing. While Tabackin's melodic, rhythmic and harmonic language is as fresh as today's warm bread, his tonal palette harkens back to Berry, Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster.
Tabackin's flute voice is about as individual as humanly possible; he simply does not sound like anyone else. His roots on flute go very deep, having started the instrument long before playing saxophone; Tabackin majored in flute at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. His flute voice is an amalgamation of classical purity and Japanese culture. His lines are not bebop (not that there's anything wrong with that....) but rather, cross cultural melodic/rhythmic statements of fact. His beautiful, singing sound mixes with an amazing intensity that lifts the listener right out of their seat.
The music here comes from a performance at the Pinot Jazz Club in Paris, France, March 28, 2007. The band, Tabackin's regular working group (known as Lew Tabackin and the International Trio), has been together for more than a decade, and
includes Boris Kozlov (bass) and Mark Taylor (drums).
The CD opener, Self Portrait of the Bean, written by Duke Ellington for Coleman Hawkins, begins with a solo tenor cadenza of sorts. Tabackin's open, rich sound immediately pays tribute to the "Grand Master" ofthe tenor saxophone, incorporating
growls, and a rich sub-tone down to low Bb. Tabackin's lines are a mixture of the arpeggiated chords identified with Hawkins, and the more modern scale/chord patterns associated with Coltrane and Rollins. In the space of approimately sixty seconds Tabackin manages to pass through eight different emotional "time zones." When bass and drums enter, the tempo is a moderate "business man's bounce" as Tabackin plays the melody. His solo is a masterpiece of melodic invention, one motive neatly unfolding into the next, telling a story filled with wisdom.
Till the End of Time, an adaptation of Chopin's Polonaise in A Flat, is up next and is a straight-ahead blowing tune that swings its head off. Tabackin's solo builds in musical content and intensity with each chorus, and while he is not one to harbor licks and cliches, he does manage a quote from Mack the Knife and, On the Trail. He covers the entire range of the horn, bottom to top. Kozlov follows with a terrific arco bass solo
for several choruses. Tabackin is in for several more powerful choruses before trading fours with Taylor and the reprise of the melody.
One of the highlights of any Tabackin performance comes when he plays the flute. The good news is he turns in a masterful flute performance on John Coltrane's Wise One; the bad news is, it's the only flute tune on the CD. As soon as Tabackin plays his first, rich, beautiful note, d above the staff, you realize you are in the presence of greatness. His a cappella intro is rich in nuance and color, you hear the Japanese influence, pitch
bends, foot stomps et al. The melody is played over a pedal tone played by acro bass, and Tabackin solos over an Afrollatin groove when drums enter. To try to put into words what happens musically is futile, you must hear this for yourself.
Thelonious Monk is represented by two great tunes, Eronel and Ask Me Now. Eronel begins with Tabackin playing a wonderful a cappella intro that includes excerpts from several Monk tunes, including Epistrophy, Bemsha Srulng (with some terrific multiphonics for punctuation) and Monh's Mood. When bass and drums enter, the three cats hit a medium groove that swings till the cows come home. Ask Me is played as a warm, beautiful ballad. Tabackin's musical lines are played with passion, soul and unending creativity.
The final tune, I'll Be Seeing You, a closer the trio uses often, is an up-tempo romp that will leave you smiling. Tabackin has long been revered as a jazz master, and this performance gives all the testimony needed to support that idea. Drummer, Taylor, gets to stretch out in a well-formed solo before engaging in a tenor/drum duet and the final recap ofthe melody.
Playing with only bass and drums is not for the faint of heart, but Tabackin is completely at home in this setting. This recording presents Tabackin, his two personal musical voices, and his cohorts at their best; check them out.
Toshiko Akiyoshi & Lew Tabackin at Yoshi's
Early in her 8:00 set at Yoshi’s San Francisco, pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi spoke in charmingly accented English about the salad days of her six-decade career. She said that after spending her youth in Japan absorbing and imitating other pianists, she eventually realized “the need to find my own idiosyncracies.”
The highly individualistic voice she discovered was on prominent display in this hard-swinging quartet gig, along with the turbo-charged sax and flute playing of Akiyoshi’s husband, Lew Tabackin. Although few were on hand to hear this stripped-down alternative to their acclaimed big band, Akiyoshi and Tabackin filled the void with a quirky, vibrant brand of high-energy bebop.
Akiyoshi’s style can take a couple of tunes to adjust to, and her unaccompanied solo break in the opening “Long Yellow Road” (Akiyoshi’s de facto theme song) was like a crash course. Swinging yet fascinatingly mercurial, her left hand sounded tart, staccato chords and sudden dissonant crashes, while her right swirled like a dust devil or fluttered willy-nilly like a butterfly, prancing unpredictably and with impish humor.
Tabackin was the dominant force through much of the set. Solid and square-jawed, bending at the waist and knees, Tabackin scuttled a few steps forward or back in frequent moments of blazing intensity. On tenor saxophone, he provided explosive outbursts linked by flowing supersonic flights, his incredible breath control making it all sound seamless. And his tribute to Coleman Hawkins in “Self Portrait of the Bean” poured out like whiskey, a gruff, bluesy ode to the night owls.
But Tabackin’s finest moment came on flute. “Autumn Sea” felt like a kabuki theatre performance, coming down from Akiyoshi’s bright, bouncing intro to a hauntingly expressive, shakuhachi-like solo, slow and vast, punctuated by stamps of Tabackin’s foot and, later, low mallet work by drummer Mark Taylor.
Taylor and bassist Peter Washington kept the sound fresh with brisk, skipping rhythm, providing just the right balance of straightforward drive and agile openness for the co-leaders’ unique east-west bop attack. It’s a sound that lingers in the ear, idiosyncratic indeed, and greatly satisfying.
From Der Bund
(English Translation Click Here
to view original German version in the presskit reviews document)
An Amazing Jazz Surrealist
By Tom Gsteiger
The saxophone player Lew Tabackin has a long beard – his music
No signs of being mellowed by age. 1940 born Lew Tabackin still enjoys riding on the fast lane. Sometimes he races so extremely fast through the registers of his instrument, that you nearly get dizzy. Astonishing is, with what kind of elegance Tabackin plays his sprints and salti mortali. He is up to every trick!
His gig at Marian's Jazz room he was in great company. Pianist Dada Moroni is an exeptionally gifted musician as well, from heavy block accords to racy bop-runs to power play ala McCoy, he knows it all. Moroni has his influences internalized so sovereignly, that you never feel like being in a second hand shop. And there is reason for Peter Washington being one of the most demanded Bass players of the new york straight ahead scene.
Jason Browen is the opposite of an spectacular drummer, he never intends to come to the fore, he looks after the art of tasteful swing. The combination in this band works.
That Tabackin’s Repertoire mostly consists out of the times of swing and bebop is no coincidence. Opposite to most of the other saxophone player of his generation he doesn’t follow John Coltrane. Last not least his vibrato rich, full-bodied sound shows, that he intensively argued with the “heroic tenors”, who delivered the soundtrack to the hedonistic decadent era , that F.Scott Fitzgerald raised a monument with “the great Gatsby”.
Opposite to the 14 years younger Scott Hamilton Lew Tabackin is not an diehard nostalgic, but peps his sometimes racy, sometimes opulent rhapsodic Swing with modern bebop and a bit of surrealism. What David Liebman as an soprano saxophonist does with with the music of John Coltrane , Tabackin does as tenor saxophonist with the music of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster a & co. He modernizes them in a very discrete way, without destroying their genre.
Across the fairgrounds on Bill Berry Stage another veteran pianist, Toshiko Akiyoshi, showed that, at 80, she really is as good as ever. A Bud Powell protege, former band leader and arranger, she vigorously attacked the piano, setting a lightning fast tempo on her "Long Narrow Road." Her co-leader, husband Lew Tabakin, was peerless on tenor and flute. On Akiyoshi's "Autumn Seed," Tabakin's flute evoked rustling breezes while drummer Mark Taylor provided Kabuki flavor. The band also included the wonderful Peter Washington on bass. He and Tabakin collaborated on Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism," the tenor getting almost in the face of the bass. While soloing, Tabakin is constantly in motion, rocking back and forth, roaming the stage; he gets into it with his whole body.
First Place, Flute, Swing Journal Reader's poll, 2007, 2008
July 20, 2007
Sounds to Quiet a Crowd While Recalling Faded Times
By BEN RATLIFF
On Wednesday, Lew Tabackin played at Smalls, a square, shallow basement club in the West Village where the drummer sat about an arm’s reach from the end of the bar. There was some talking in the back at the start of the set, and at first Mr. Tabackin played near a microphone. But then the talking stopped and the place felt like a soundproof room.
Mr. Tabackin, playing tenor saxophone, walked away from the microphone and started moving with his phrases, jerking up a knee and rearing his head back; his natural sound suffused the place for the rest of the set. He used the microphone again only to play the flute - which he does better than most flute players in jazz, with a sound that starts strong and doesn’t flicker away.
But the sound of his saxophone playing was the draw. It had a slight rasp, soft subtones in the low notes and even control through the registers; he scattered stylized shakes of vibrato all through his playing. His phrasing isn’t that eccentric but can intimate eccentricity, with jumbles of intervals, gargling sounds, long streams of notes. He always acknowledged the swing accents of the rhythm section and the arrival of the next bar. And his soloing was full of larger-scale form, too: like Coleman Hawkins, he built up his big statements to a single, brusque falsetto shriek, then closed off the thought with a sense of symmetry.
The set contained a few originals, a ballad standard full of fast, braying lines (“I’ll Be Seeing You”) and some ’50s jazz that ran parallel to bebop: Oscar Pettiford’s “Tricotism,” Thelonious Monk’s “Eronel” and “Ask Me Now.” But its subtext held two larger truths about jazz. One is that we should take jazz’s old, disappearing virtues of sound and form where we find them. The other is that someone like Mr. Tabackin might be best appreciated in a place that can fit only about 100 people - a lousy business model, perhaps, but one that lets a listener really feast on sound, wallow in it and remember it.
Mr. Tabackin developed his craft in the late ’50s and early ’60s, which means he’s old enough to know the importance of a big, round saxophone sound. This was the standard set by jazz tenor players through the middle of the last century - those, like Hawkins, who played in big bands, with singers, in roadhouses and dancehalls, who had to make their mark on popular ballads that dancers knew in their bones.
But he was also the right age to absorb the Sonny Rollins trio records from 1957 and 1958. Those records were buoyant and playful, full of the sense of discovery that a saxophonist could sound good leading a band, without a chordal instrument like guitar or piano, and that playfulness set the dimensions for Wednesday’s set. One original piece, “Studio F,” sounded like a cousin to the melody from Mr. Rollins’s “Freedom Suite,” but the similarity was much more general. The trio’s bassist, Boris Kozlov, and its drummer, Mark Taylor, played bouncing melodic figures with limited volume; they were pursuing a durable ideal of swinging without getting in the way. And Mr. Tabackin, within precise limits, let himself go.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Monk (Spirits Of New York Review .jpg)
Lew Tabackin, Saluting Smartly
"The Kennedy Center's "100th Birthday Tribute to Coleman Hawkins" at the KC Jazz Club on Saturday night fell in t the category of "better late than never." Far, far better.
Hawkins, who was actually born in 1904, established the tenor sax as a prominent voice in early jazz and subsequently achieved both commercial and critical success. Saturday night veteran tenor-man Lew Tabackin took on the daunting task of evoking Hawkins's deeply resonating tone and bold stylistic innovations. There were reminders of Hawkins's seemingly effortless transition from swing to bop, his daring forays into unaccompanied tenor sax performances, and his commanding (and often surprising) way with a romantic ballad.
Like the evening's honoree, Tabackin displayed great harmonic and rhythmic assurance as he moved through a series of mostly quartet arrangements that featured an exceptional array of talent: pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Mark Taylor. The performances included a melodically intriguing salute to Hawkins's landmark recording of "Body and Soul"; a short, unaccompanied improvisation inspired by Hawkins's unprecedented "Picasso" period in the late 1940's; and a warmly evocative, brush-stroked rendering of "Self Portrait (of the Bean)," which recalled the late reedman's collaborations with Duke Ellington.
During the concert, part of the Kennedy Center's ongoing "1940s and the Arts" series, Tabackin briefly veered from the tenor sax program so as not to disappoint anyone who came to hear him play flute. As it turned out, though, some of the melodic twist he brought to Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays" didn't sound far removed from Hawkins's bountiful legacy."
Tuesday June 15, 2004
Fine music abounds at Jazziest
Low Tabackin salute to Coleman Hawkins
"Good music was in abundance on Sunday's program of the Aventis Pharmaceuticals New Jersey Jazz Society Jazzfest 2004. Marking the 29th anniversary of the NJJS event, Jazzfest was also held Saturday, both days on the grounds of Fairleigh Dickinson niversity in Madison.
"A particular highlight was tenor saxophonist Lew Tabaeldn's celebration of Coleman Hawkins (1904-1969), whose centennial. along with Count Basie's and Fats Waller's, was being feted at the festival. Performing in Dreyfuss Auditorium, Tabackin worked sans microphone, and his handsome, expansive sound - variously grainy, breathy, crying, and ringing -- easily reached the back row.
"Tabackin teamed with trumpeter Randy Brecker and drummer Mark Taylor, two vet- eran associates, pianist David Hazeltine and bassist Dennis Irwin. The set ran from tunes that Hawkins wrote, such as "Rifftide," to his hit in 1939, "Body and Soul."
"The tenorman described "Rlfftide" as a "New Jersey tune," because it is almost identical to a Thelonious Monk composition known as "Hackensack" In characteristic fashion, Tabackin was a powerhouse, using short, swinging thoughts, phrases where he smeared his notes, and dashing lines to de. liver his mainly song-like message. The con. summate Brecker, with a warm-to-crackling sound, played bold, high notes in a Dizzy Gillespie vein, happy, swinging ideas a la Louis Armstrong, and deft, intricate lines that recalled Fats Navarro. Hazeltine, Irwin and Taylor were likewise top-drawer.
The Columbus Dispatch
Thursday Octobar 28, 2004
Drew Jr., Tabackin take menu of classic tunes, make 'em cook
"The words jazz and hit might seem contradictory together. But when a jazz piece
becomes familiar to a large audience, it serves to welcome the listener. That was
the case when the Columbus Jazz Orchestra opened its "Swingin' At The Southern"
series last night.
"The program was a home run for the ensemble not only because the musicians
sidestepped the shopworn tone of such tunes as Jumpin' at the Woodside, Someday
My Prince Will Come and Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me
, but because guest
pianist Kenny Drew Jr. and saxophonist Lew Tabackin nearly outshone the material.
"Drew dazzled with remarkable technical ability, displaying chops that showed his classical training and a terrific pedigree. (Drew Sr. is a highly respected pianist who
recorded with John Coltrane, Dexter Cordon, Buddy Rich and many others.)
"Drew Jr. poured it all out during an extended introduction to Ellington's It Don't
Mean a Tiring (if it Ain't Got That Siving), deconstructing the melody at a blinding
pace. The orchestra came in at a fraction of the tempo, accenting the piano. The
streams conflicted at first and then joined in a bracing outing that Included the "kitchen sink" from Drew and a smoking solo from saxophonist Michael Cox.
"Drew's medley of Ellington's Single Petal of a Rose and Prelude to a Kiss featured a
lovely pastoral Rose
"The Columbus Jazz Orchestra will present " The Jazz Hit Parade, with saxophonist Lew Tabakin and pianist Kenny Drew Jr., at 8 tonight through Saturday night and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the Southern Theatre, 21 E. Main St. Tickets cost $24 to $48, or $5 for ages 13 to 18t at the Jazz Arts Group office (6142945200, Ext. 3), the Ohio Theatre box office (614469-0939) and Ticketmaster outlets (614-431-3600).
"Tabackin's contributions were on a higher level still. A veteran of 30 years co-leadIng the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band with his pianist wife, Tabackin Is a brilliant and emotive improviser at the top of his form.
"Among the spotlights last night, Billy Strayhorn's Chelsea Bridge not only provided the evening's high, but one of the most powerful performances the Columbus Jazz Orchestra has hosted in several years.
"Tabackin opened with an extended unaccompanied solo that twisted marvelously, celebrating and re-examining the song's lush melody. When the band joined, he continued to explore the tune with a structuralism akin to Sonny Rollins' and a storytelling ability that recalled Lester Young. He found the gorgeous contradictions in the song: It is muscular and gentle, emotionally starved and erupting In feeling. His performance was simply as good as it gets.
"He not only made memories but also spurred the group on to a fabulous ensemble performance. Singer Dwight Lennox caught the favor for those tunes as well.
Globe and Mail
Thursday November 11, 2004
Tenor Soloist Makes Great Sax
"Come the 21st of this month, the jazz world will celebrate the centenary of the legendary tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins's birth. Lew Tabackin himself a tenorist at least partly in the Hawkins tradition, got off to a head start on Tuesday at the Top o' The Senator in Toronto.
"If it wasn't for Coleman Hawkins," Tabackin mused midway through the evening's opening set, "I don't know what we would sound like. We'd probably still be in vaudeville." He went onto Wall of Hawkins's "firsts" in the history of the saxophone in jazz.
"A case could be also made for Sidney Bechet's significance in the transformation of the instrument from its beginnings as a novelty item, but bechet played soprano and his centenary was seven years ago. So Hawkins is the man of the particular hour/month/year, and Tabackin paid his respects with two tunes, neither of which was Body and Soul, the balled chat Bean - ore Hawkins was known - recorded to such enduring effect in 1939.
"No, Taback n chose instead to play Hanid (that's "Dinah" backwards) and Duke Ellington's Self Portrait (of the Bean), each offered in dose approximation of Hawkins's large-than-life style - his hearty tone, his shuddering vibrato, his sometimes gruff expressivity, his deceptively modem harmonic and melodic ingenuity and his rhythmic vigour.
"And never mind the tunes; the fact that a saxophonist of Tabackin's generation and contemporary leanings - he's 64, Philadelphia-born - could fad such clear inspiration in a musician whose career dates back to the mid-1920s speaks volumes about Hawkins' lasting impact on jazz.
"It also speaks well of Tabackin that, under normal circumstances (the extended version of How Deep Is the Oceam that opened Tuesday first set, for example), he has personalized Hawkins's influence in combination with more recent developments it jazz. His own sound is lighter and has attack striving In a decidedly boppish manner his solos hurtle along, though withou t ever quite getting ahead of themselves or spinning out of control.
"He dances when he plays - dips, knees-ups, back arches, two steps to the rear and a couple sideways, all is if to counterbalance the risk and reach so typical of his improvisations. And he hikes to blow long, unaccompanied cadenzas, either to set up or wind down whatever tune is at hand. That's another bow to Hawkins,, whose 1948 recording of Picasso established an early and high standard for such sob ventures.
"Tabackin's fondness for self sufficiency was certainly no reflection on the tidy support that he was receiving, as required, from his three Toronto musicians at the Senator, pianist Mark Eisenman bassist Steve Wallace and drummer Joe Poole. Indeed, there was a fascinating subtext to the performance as Poole, making his "big league debut with a musician of Tabackin's international stature, worked his way smartly from a rather nervous start to a very confident finish.
"Full Blast and Risky Tricks
"Lew Tabackin belongs to a rare species, being a Jazz Archaeologist and Adventurer all at once! The first night of his Bern concerts, the 1940 born American presented himself in extraordinary shape!
"The ideas and the air would just NOT run out! His risky though precise tenor tricks have, from a dramatic point of view, a lot in common with the swordfights in pirate flicks: It's about flashy spectacle and ways of getting out "exit-less" situations.
"The hero tenorists of the pre-bop era, with their "raspy" timbres, as well as Parker's ability or Sonny Rollins' sarcasm are important inspirational sources for Tabackin who who becomes sort of a turbo saxophonist! His awareness of history was proved by dedicating part of the set to the late great Coleman Hawkins, who established the tenor sax, almost alone, as the jazz instrument par excellence!
"Body and Soul," the tune that catapulted Hawkins into the jazzolymp in 1939, obviously couldn't be undermined. He plays ballads warm-heartedly as well as in doubletime. Especially beautiful was Tabackin's interpretation of Ellington's "Self Portrait of the Bean." Another Duke "Sunset and the Mockingbird" was performed extraordinarily on flute. Again, he demonstrated to be an expressive virtuoso on this chosen instrument. Backed by a true elite trio, the Italian Dado Moroni, who offered stride- jumps as well as McCoy Tyner voicings, Peter Washington (bass) and Lewis Hash (drums) who were swinging with sovereign authority!
"Tabackin said: "I wanna leave a good impression behind'! This he achieved in outstanding fashion!
to experience the art of jazz improvisation are rare. What one hears at most
jazz performances is the
of jazz improvisation - its technique,
its virtuosity, its entertainment.
that offers plenty of attractions, there's something even more special in
hearing jazz that moves into the heart of the mysterious process of improvisation
as artistic expression.
to tenor saxophonist Lew Tabackin's appearance this week at the Jazz Bakery.
Working with the empathetic support of bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Mark
Taylor, he played an opening set Tuesday that was a stunning example of a
musician in full pursuit of his creative muse.
began on tenor saxophone with an exploration of "sweet and Lovely,"
establishing an immediate high point for the evening with a series of organically
expanding, growingly complex variations. Starting with melodic paraphrases,
he gradually moved into rapidly executed arpeggios interspersed with occasional
high-note shouts, reaching a peak of expressiveness in bursting streams of
offered a brief apology at the close of his set, noting that the trio had
just flown in from the East Coast. If he was implying that he intends to take
his music to another level - and even if he doesn't - the balance of his week
at the Bakery will be one of the don't-miss jazz experiences of the year.
material followed -- [Lew Tabackin]'s touching ballad "Broken Dreams,"
Duke Ellington's rarely heard "Serenade to Sweden" and a high-speed
romp through "Without a Song." On another original, inspired by
Kobo Abe's novel (and the subsequent film) "Woman in the Dunes,"
he switched to flute, his solo's roving circularity darkly reflective of the
story's sense of enigmatic isolation.
Tenority is one of Lew's most important recordings to
date because it showcases him at his most creative level, on saxophone. It
exemplifies just how virtuostic Lew's playing has become. He flies through
all registers of the tenor with flawless precision and grooves hard constantly.
His history and career as a musician shows one of the most important aspects
of jazz as a craft. He speaks the language of jazz as a true jazzman. Lew
has lived and played with all the masters. You can hear in his creativity
that his course of study was on the bandstand. Jazz is a recognizable language,
unfortunately, there is little chance in today's world to experience or be
a part of jazz in a live setting. Schools will teach you the "grammar"
of jazz and the "vocabulary" of jazz but they will never be able
to teach you how to use the language so that it is recognizably jazz. You
must listen, listen, and listen constantly. This is something that is really
missing in many players today. That is why I urge all of you to check out
Lew Tabackin now!
one of the finest examples of a true player. A man guided by
his own agenda, one of today's most luminary jazz artists. If you play the
saxophone and never heard of him, or got the chance to hear his music, it's
about time you did. His use of the body of sound is most inspiring. By that
I mean, the sound he gets on the tenor. It's one of the best in jazz. His
time feel and the way he shapes his phrases is extraordinary. His breath control
and use of long lines, multiphonics, and doing it on standard songs is astounding.
The disc here is a beautiful collection of Monk, Berlin, Gershwin, Al Jolson,
Raye, and DePaul as well as some choice Tabackin jazz originals. The first
five cuts feature pianist Don Friedman. He really shines here and is the ultimate
band player. I enjoy his solos, his note choices are well informed, and he
blends the random and the abstract together well. Friedman's flawless precision
has always knocked me out! On the cut 5 through 7, trumpet master Randy Brecker
is added. This is one of Tabackin's most important counterparts here. This
document with Lew and Randy is of extreme importance to the world of jazz.
The coherent playing of Brecker and the definition of Lew's sound is inspiring.
Brecker and Tabackin simply challenge the conventions of official musical
culture and structure. I've always loved the exhaustive scope of Randy Brecker's
solos with his very careful attention to the many separate threads of his
subject matter and hi distinctive point of view. His trumpet playing is a
revelation and a delight. Randy is one of the most important musicians and
composers of the last twenty-five years. There is simply very few that meet
his level today. Peter Washington on bass and the ever swinging Mark Taylor
on drums lends a constant air of excitement to the date.
is simply an incredible construction of music
by Lew Tabackin. All aspects are superb. As you listen to this historical
CD and let your ears and mind make friends with it, beyond analysis or words,
you'll find yourself traveling through exciting and vivid territories of jazz.
This is music of great craft and imagination by tenor master Lew Tabackin.
As such, it's a date that promises to give pleasure for years to come. Keep
Lew Tabackin is a frequent poll-winner, both
for his contribution to the big band he co-leads with his wife, Toshiko Akiyoshi,
and for his flute playing, Chris Parker writes. Live, though, he concentrates
his formidable improvising powers on the tenor saxophone. As if to emphasize
the point, for this five-day engagement he is appearing as part of a trio
- completed by the British drummer Mark Taylor and Belgian bassist Phillippe
Aerts - so he is able to luxuriate in the relative harmonic and rhythmic freedom
resulting from the absence of a piano.
Tabackin meant business as soon as he led the band into
their first tune, Come Rain or Come Shine; instead of treating Arlen's familiar
melody as an easy-paced warm-up lope, he subjected it to a vigorous examination,
investigating its possibilities with a thoroughness that recalled not only
the rhapsodic self-absorption of Coleman Hawkins, but also the fierce intensity
laced with playfulness that characterizes the solos of Sonny Rollins, one
of Tabackin's strongest influences.
was brought to mind even more readily by the approach Tabackin
took with a follow-up number, Me and My Shadow. Like Rollins, he is an expert
at molding apparently unsuitable tunes into perfect improvisational vehicles.
Thus, in his hands, the apparent drawbacks of Shadow - it's slightly plodding
tempo, the superficial banality of its melody - were transformed into advantages.
Tadd Dameron's bog anthem, Hot House, was skillfully woven into a lively trio
workout, and Duke Ellington's Serenade to Sweden proved hospitable to some
smart double-time tenor passages.
live performance would be compete without his celebrated
flute playing, and he chose two typically varied showcases for it. John Coltrane's
Wise One involved some finely judged work from Aerts, and Juan Tizol's A Gypsy
Without a Song was both cogent and fluent, showing off Tabackin's pure, full-bodied
sound to perfection.
have been a highlight of a flautist's concert - the fact
that they were almost incidental to Tabackin's superb tenor display served
only to underline just what a consummate musician he is.
Where is Lucky Thompson when we need him? Thompson and Tabackin would make a fine pair of "tough tenors." What I mean to say is that Tabackin is a tenor man "in the tradition." He incorporates a whole range of tradition in his style, from the Zooty flavor of his entrance on "I Surrender, Dear" to the Rollins-like drive of Bird's "Perhaps."
His is an arpeggiated approach, chords up and down, with a throaty attack made up of equal parts cataclysmic slurs and staccato runs. His vibrato is a broad swipe: horse laugh meets a slow, hot wind. He likes to decorate a melody, as Monk's "Ruby, My Dear" and Duke's "Isfahan" make clear. There are three flute pieces here. too, which he plunges into with the same passion that he execises on tenor. On there, as on tenor, he's inside the tune and not merely skidding along on top, as flutists are sometimes wont to do.
Green (more and more like a Red Garland or Wynton Kelly of the 90's), Washington, and Nash also show respect for the jazz tradition of swing and soulful investment. A Tabackin-Nash duet on Monk's "In Walked Bud" brings out the drummer's bopping best. The pianist's block chords on "Lost In Meditation," another Ellington tune, are divine.
I don't know how to deny any stars for this album. It would be hard to improve on the mastery evident here.