The air is full of a dark menace at the opening movements of Billy Bang's violin in Homeward Bound," suggesting that music of overwhelming sadness will follow. However, all of this soon dissipates as bassist Joe Fonda and drummer Barry Altschul--and Bang as well--guide the music from turmoil and grave fear, loathing and gloom to the strains of brightness, hope and glory. The sense of catharsis at the end of the piece is palpable and portends well for the rest of History of Jazz in Reverse. This, then, is far from an album of doom and gloom, although Bang must ...read more
A trio consisting of violin, bass and drums might seem a little thin, but violinist Billy Bang, bassist Joe Fonda and drummer Barry Altschul know a thing or two about this music and their collective effort on this disc combines elements of the intellectual and the physical. The result is, perhaps unsurprisingly, music which appeals in differing measures to both the head and the heart, serving notice of just how infrequently this mix is successfully caught on record. On one level, the heart comes predominantly from Bang, yet another musician no longer with us and the likes ...read more
It is a travesty of fate--and of the American jazz establishment--that violinist Billy Bang never received the recognition he merited. Hosannas have been sung to him, many of them after he died, but the fact remains that he was kept on the periphery despite an admirable body of work. His virtuosity can be witnessed on recordings like Valve No. 10 (Soul Note, 1991), and Vietnam: The Aftermath (Justin Time, 2001) and Vietnam: Reflections (Justin Time, 2004), which were extensions of his experiences during a war that had a strong emotional impact on him. Bang made five recordings with ...read more
Jazz violin, for some, is an acquired taste. Perhaps this has more to do with the instrument's dominant role in Western classical music, more than anything else, but there's something very naked and vocal about the sound of a violin--much like the saxophone, it calls forth all sorts of intense emotions. Billy Bang, who died in April 2011, understood this all too well. He endured more than his share of slings and arrows early in his musical career, only to rise as a crucial participant and instigator of New York's Loft Jazz scene during the 1970s. From there, he went ...read more
The late Billy Bang (1947-2011) will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the great jazz violinists. On his chosen instrument, Bang was a true innovator--a singular prodigy whose diverse experiences ranged from a brief tenure in Sun Ra's Arkestra to co-founding the groundbreaking String Trio of New York in 1977. In addition to leading his own groups, the past decade found him collaborating regularly with fellow veterans bassist Joe Fonda and drummer Barry Altschul--seasoned improvisers whose formative years were spent alongside Bang in the 1970s loft jazz scene.Despite a century's worth of touring and recording between them (amid ...read more
If three previous live albums weren't proof enough, Live in Amsterdam underscores how the FAB Trio thrives on the high-wire act of playing in front of an audience. Bassist Joe Fonda, drummer Barry Altschul and violinist Billy Bang treat the crowd at the Bimhuis Jazz Club to some excellent avant-garde virtuosity that, although lengthy and involved, is neither overlong nor self-indulgent. The trio, in various permutations, artfully blends free and straight-ahead elements to create ambitious, complex tunes. Fabmusic Opening," for example, begins as an extended, high energy duet between Altschul and Fonda; after Bang's cyclonic solo, the ...read more
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