Tani Tabbal Trio – Now Then
(Tao Records. Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)
Tani Tabbal is a drummer, born in Chicago but settled in Detroit. He played with singer Oscar Brown Jnr and the Sun Ra Arkestra before going on to work regularly with various groups led by Roscoe Mitchell, with whom he appeared at London’s Cafe Oto a year or so ago. He has also worked with amongst others Griot Galaxy, David Murray, Geri Allen, Steve Coleman and Evan Parker. He is a fine drummer with the ability to move between various styles of jazz drumming.
Now Then features the trio Tabbal has been leading recently; it has Adam Siegel on alto saxophone and Michael Bisio on double bass. It is the trio’s third album, and also the third on the new Tao label.
It is an excellent feature for a fine trio; the music is in that area between mainstream modern jazz and free jazz, a territory populated by the likes of William Parker, Matthew Shipp and the late David S. Ware. The greatest influence on the trio is probably that of Ornette Coleman; the music is based on compositions, six by Tabbal and four by Bisio, but the solos are free. Adam Siegel is a real discovery; he has a strong tone on the alto and the ability to interact very effectively with his colleagues. Bisio (seen in UK with pianist Matthew Shipp) and Tabbal provide plenty of interesting rhythmic patterns, but always provide a strong pulse.
There is a good deal of variety on the album with some tracks closer to the mainstream and others much more ‘out’. I also enjoy the different directions the improvisations take; for example on certain tracks, Just Woke Up, Midway Open and r.henri there is a lot of interaction with a kind of call and response between the three musicians, while on other tracks each of the trio creates lines that are independent, but complement those of the other two. For example, the notes to the album describe the solos on the title track Now Then as sounding like ‘three skiers racing down a steep mountain’.
All in all, this is a fine album which provides evidence for the continuing strength of free jazz in the US.