Tarbaby: The End Of Fear (2010)
While this crew is more than capable of carrying the load by themselves, three guest horn players add new dimensions to Tarbaby's music. Rising tenor saxophone star JD Allen, alto saxophone guru Oliver Lake, and trumpet titan Nicholas Payton are on hand to lend support and talent to much of this music.
A pair of Revis originals opens the program, and "E-Math" is equal parts hip and ominous. Background chatterin the same vein as that heard on Marvin Gaye's classic "What's Going On"evolves into paranoid voices as the doom-laden bass and drum team creates some magic behind Payton's stellar muted lines. The followup, "Brews," has a bluesy, Thelonious Monk-ish slant to it, and an inebriated vibe hovers over this song.
Two collectively created miniatures"Heads" and "Tails"deal with free play and bombast. Neither track is particularly memorable, despite the caustic saxophone shrieks on the latter, but freedomnot formseems to be the point of these two pieces. The only other brief episode is a cover of Bad Brains' "Sailin' On," where raging thrash jazz and throbbing, distorted sounds are the order of the day, with Revis the constant upon which everybody relies.
When this group isn't creating stormy sonic serenades, it produces some wondrous music that follows wide arcs of evolution. Evans' "Jena 6" starts with a touch of mysticism, making friends with the avant-garde and building around the pianist's thought-provoking work before moving toward a climax on the shoulders of Waits' loose-yet-powerful drumming. Waits' "Hesitation" is a masterpiece, with Payton delivering the best horn performance on the album. Breathy allure, bent notes, one fantastic growl, and a Terence Blanchard-like sense of drama are all in play here.
Other noteworthy performances include Lake's angular "November '80," a straightforward ballad performance of Fats Waller's "Lonesome Me," and a ghostly "Tough Love," from Andrew Hill's catalog. Tongue-in-cheek toying, musical tantrums and high art are all present in equal parts on the compelling journey that is The End Of Fear.
Track Listing: E-Math; Brews; Heads; Unity; Jena 6; Sailin' On; Lonesome; November '80; Hesitation; Tails; Tough Love; Abacus.
Personnel: Orrin Evans: piano; Eric Revis: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums; JD Allen: tenor saxophone (7, 11); Oliver Lake: alto saxophone (1, 4, 8, 10, 11); Nicholas Payton: trumpet (1, 3, 4, 9, 11).
Record Label: Posi-Tone Records