It’s about time! Veteran drummer Tani Tabbal, most notable for his enduring interplay with Roscoe Mitchell & his Sound Ensemble (along with many other shared recordings) kicks out a six track CD as a band/project leader (preceded by last year’s Wizards by all but a whisker). A man of many deportments, who will leave separate impressions depending on what recording or live performance you have experienced of his, this album does quite a good job of capturing a decent range of his many faces. Tabbal is extremely versatile, but I think it would be fair to say he mostly composites Jazz, Jazz-Fusion & Avant-Garde Jazz. His old-school credentials ring extremely true in anything he plays, always flourishing with immense character, personality & realness, something that modern Jazz/Avant musicians struggle hugely to successfully adopt or wield (more on that affliction some other time). I knew Tabbals abilities were special from all his recordings with Mitchells Sound Ensemble, but he seemed to be holding back or reigning himself in on those albums, not exposing his full hand. It’s really when I first got to see him perform live with Roscoe & then got to play right next to the guy that i understood how deep & effortlessly he had penetrated into the absolute vortex of abject Avant-Garde/Off-Road. It was ridiculously astonishing & seemingly endless in it’s changes & possibilities. Unfortunately, that kind of total abyss immersion is not really portrayed on this album, with the brilliant “Thin Mid Fat Mid Thin” the only track really throwing itself into the tempest bad-lands. Instead, we have a very accomplished selection of hard-Bop progression with Avant-leanings. Tabbal has summoned two saxophonists – Ben Newsome on tenor & Adam Siegel on alto along with double-bassist Lew Scott. None of these characters were familiar to me prior to this recording but I think they all make great contributions on this album. The album also has delicious sound/production. Aside a version of Ornette Colemans “Lonely Woman”, all five tracks are written by Tabbal, apparently in the 70’s, only now just being recorded for the first time. there are two that stand out the most for me, the first of which is Zycron. This twelve minute cut is massively satisfying with the bass snaking through in five whilst the sax solos. Things agitate & escalate until the floor is left clear for Tani to solo before the colours pivot & dash into a final swing section. It’s great stuff. & then there is Thin Mid Fat Thin. This is by far the most whacked-out jam on the album, a 12.52 brain-bender of bloated-oddity & entrenched weirdness. Starting off languid & nebulous the commotion begins to elevate & exuberate until it’s a wild morass of engulfing exasperation & dislocated-atonality. It’s a rupturing kick in the reality region, made even better by the excellent recording quality & sumptuous sound that really points you at the focal omphalos. It is a pity that more of this mayhem is not incorporated on the album, although the lone presence does make it more stand out. the album is quite short as well (just over 50 minutes in total) & I think one more shot, especially into the more ardent & crazy territories would of gone down a treat. That said, this is a very’ very nice CD indeed with a very deep body of flavour. The personality in Tabbals drumming is majorly formidable, so much so that I can even listen to his solo drum tracks (I can’t say that for 98% of other drummers, even my favourites). Even the straighter stuff on this disc to me has a real flair (obviously I am always inclined to the mad shit) & depth. Hopefully much more will be coming from Tabbal in the near future as it’s obvious the guys absolutely overloaded with honed-ideas & swirling creative forces.
Label: Tabbalia Sound