Assif Tsahar/Cooper-Moore/Hamid Drake
Variety spices this collaboration between three musicians whose creativity takes the music to delightful and exciting heights. There is never a dull moment; even in the calm of their expositions comes a centrifugal force that fills the compositions with intense dynamism.
Assif Tsahar is a bold, authoritative player who never loses the opportunity to take a leap into the unknown. Even as he does, he knows when to come back and complete the circle of invention without a missed beat. Making it all the more gripping are the arresting patterns that Cooper-Moore and Hamid Drake weave into the narrative.
Tsahar injects several moods into his playing. He can caterwaul and scream and push the boundaries with short notes that jab and then change the direction with a piercing scream, only to evolve the mechanism of free play into a tempting melodic essay. Form and substance are his to mould, and he strikes that position right from the time he goes into "Breaking The Water. Even as he sets changing parameters, Cooper-Moore is there gurgling on his twanger and diddley-bow, the vortex sweeping in Drake and making for a magnetic introduction to the CD.
The blues underline "Departure. Tsahar is hardy and inventive with the tenor saxophone, his deep grooves casting an impression and then getting on to add shade and depth as jumps into the upper register. What sets it off and apart is the opening dialogue between Cooper-Moore and Drake, the percussive dance of the drums in sinuous cleave with the twanger. Drake plays the tabla as he brings in "Dugong the Sea Cow, a tune of deep beauty that is given its softly woven texture by Tsahar on the bass clarinet.
This record is a very rewarding listen.
Assif Tsahar/Tatsuka Nakatani/KJLA String 4tet
The sonorities on Solitude are engagingly different. Tsahar uses the strings of the quartet not only for denser texture, but also to parlay the playing into a wide field where the spirit of spontaneity can roam freely. In sum, they come up with pictures that are vivid and multi-dimensional.
By way of paradox, or through a sense of humour, "Unmoving contains a wealth of shifting timbre and dynamics. There is nary a moment when the going settles down, movement and change being the elements the track grooves on. Tatsuya Nakatani gets the tick going, the click of percussion, the tap of the drum, and then the violins rising slowly to swirl a curtain over the top. Volatility gives way to deliberation, the mood changes and coalesces into thick outpourings on the strings. While this is enough to retain attention, it gets all the better when the musicians open interaction, particularly between percussion and the squealing strings.
The mood is sombre but captivating on "Love Is. The melody flows gently, Tsahar is in no hurry to expose it. As the strings come in, his notes rise and curl and as they descend he infuses them with pithy sinew. Tsahar wraps "Solitude in his own reckoning. He touches the vestiges of the melody before dipping fully into it. His tone is balmy and deliberate and in that he creates a welcome new picture of the Duke Ellington tune.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Breaking the Water; A Falling Leaf; Departure; Dugong the Sea Cow; Seeking the Punto Fijo; Confessions; The Coming of the Ship; The shepherd; Goin' Home.
Personnel: Assif Tsahar: tenor sax, bass clarinet; Cooper-Moore: ashimba, twanger, diddley-bow; Hamid Drake: drum set, tablas, frame drum.
Tracks: Love Is; Unmoving; Sand Between A Toe; The Epistemology Of Loss; Of Amazing Most Now; Blue Sun; Falling; By And By; Solitude.
Personnel: Assif Tsahar: reeds; Tatsuya Nakatani: percussion; KJLA String 4tet: Katt Hernandez: violin; Jean Cook: violin; Ljova: viola; Audrey Chan: cello.