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Tarbaby: The End Of Fear (2010)

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Tarbaby: The End Of Fear How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

A band name that some might see as confrontational—although the band denies this—an album title that could be wildly optimistic, a statement of faith or simply ironic; some of the fieriest jazz players on the scene and a scary Hieronymus Bosch-style cover design. What kind of music might emanate from such a combination? Free form, loud, frenetic, aggressive? Yes, but this magnificent, multilayered album offers much more.

While the packaging—name, title, image—might suggest a set of hard-hitting, confrontational music the reality is very different: The End Of Fear is a wonderfully eclectic collection of tunes. Certainly, there are aggressive and ferocious numbers—"Heads," "Tails" and a warp-speed version of Bad Brains' "Sailin' On"—but there is also great beauty: a straight-ahead take on Fats Waller
Fats Waller
Fats Waller
1904 - 1943
piano
's lovely "Lonesome Me" and a restrained and dream-like trio performance of Paul Motian
Paul Motian
Paul Motian
1931 - 2011
drums
's "Abacus."

On this album, Tarbaby is pianist Orrin Evans
Orrin Evans
Orrin Evans
b.1975
piano
, drummer Nasheet Waits
Nasheet Waits
Nasheet Waits
b.1971
drums
and bassist Eric Revis
Eric Revis
Eric Revis
b.1967
bass
. Saxophonist Stacy Dillard
Stacy Dillard
Stacy Dillard

saxophone
, a key presence on the eponymous first album (Imani Records, 2009), is absent. Instead, three special guests take charge of the horn parts.

Trumpeter Nicholas Payton
Nicholas Payton
Nicholas Payton
b.1973
trumpet
is superb, whether adding a raucous, upper register part to the brief and free-blowing "Heads" or a rhythmic, funky line to Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
1923 - 2011
sax, tenor
' tremendous "Unity." Altoist Oliver Lake
Oliver Lake
Oliver Lake
b.1942
saxophone
leads on his own composition, "November 80," his tight, tense, sound perfectly complemented by Evans' piano. JD Allen
JD Allen
JD Allen

sax, tenor
—who also played on Tarbaby—appears on only two tunes, but his tenor part on "Lonesome Me" is a master class in straightforward, emotionally engaging musicianship.

The core Tarbaby trio must be one of the strongest and most innovative of such congregations in contemporary jazz: top quality musicians and talented composers. Revis' "Brews," a fractured blues, features some powerful, emphatic playing from all three musicians. By contrast, "Abacus" finds Evans and Revis playing delicately, with Waits dipping in and out of the spaces left by his band mates. Waits' "Hesitation" is the album's darkest tune—Payton's breathy, hesitant, trumpet controls the mood perfectly.

Evans' own writing credit is for "Jena 6," where his piano playing takes center-stage for what might be described as a "ballad with an edge." It's an excellent example of another of the trio's strengths—its ability to shift the mood or atmosphere of a tune simply by a change of emphasis among the players.

So, however enigmatic the trio's choice of name or album title may be, the music on The End Of Fear rings out loud and clear. Tarbaby is one of the most powerful, dynamic and exciting jazz bands around.

Track Listing: E-Math; Brews; Heads; Unity; Jena 6; Sailin' On; Lonesome Me; 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


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