A band name that some might see as confrontationalalthough the band denies thisan 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 packagingname, title, imagemight 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
who also played on Tarbabyappears 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 tunePayton'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 strengthsits 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.