320

Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio featuring Billy Bang: Big M: A Tribute to Malachi Favors

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio featuring Billy Bang: Big M: A Tribute to Malachi Favors Malachi Favors Maghostut was more than simply the bassist for the AACM's seminal Art Ensemble of Chicago, he was a musical force whose influence ranged far across the creative music spectrum. An estimable collaborator, Favors held down sideman duties in other ensembles, including percussionist Kahil El'Zabar's long-running Ritual Trio. Since Favors' passing in 2004, Yosef Ben Israel fills his role in the trio, alongside tenor saxophonist/pianist Ari Brown.

Big M was recorded the same week as the Ritual Trio's Live At The River East Art Center (Delmark, 2005). The musicians entered the studio with a frequent collaborator, violinist Billy Bang, to record a tribute to their recently fallen comrade. Mixing together a program of deep Afro-centric grooves, jubilant funk vamps and serene atmospheric ballads, Big M is a magical and heartfelt memorial to one of jazz's finest artists.

The album opens with the buoyant, funky "Crumb-Puck-U-Lent." El'Zabar and Israel lock into a stalwart groove as Ari Brown's tenor unleashes bristling shards with pithy accuracy. Ascending with escalating lyricism, punctuated by piston-like fretwork, Bang's singular approach to the violin creatively blends unbridled arco bowing and Bartokian pizzicato in equal measure.

El'Zabar breaks out his kalimba for reflective commentary on "OOF" and "Big M," lending a beatific atmosphere to the proceedings, with Bang and Brown eliciting gorgeously reserved aphorisms. The later tune features a brief, buzzing kalimba solo of simmering intensity that hearkens back to the instrument's African origins.

Bang's sole composition, the infectious "Freedom Flexibility," ups the energy level, with Ari Brown's nimble piano excursion followed by Bang's fervent cyclic variations, driven by El'Zabar's increasingly cathartic cries.

Blending hypnotic, Africanized modal grooves with post-bop verve, "Kau" and "Maghoustut" feature some of the album's most invigorating performances. Israel and El'Zabar deliver smooth, fluid grooves, taking brief solos while Brown and Bang alternate time in the spotlight. Brown's muscular tenor is brawny and sinuous, expelling waves of soulful exuberance with a husky timbre and measured phrasing. Bang's rough-hewn tonality and folksy melodic sensibilities knit seamlessly with the trio's Earthy aesthetics, adding a potent layer to their already rich sound.

El'Zabar closes the album with "Malachi," a tender vocal tribute to Favors filled with reflective remembrances and a rare flute solo.

Teeming with vivaciousness, this celebratory ode to the life of Malachi Favors avoids morose lamentation, and the result is a joyous, viable tribute to a beloved artist.

Visit Kahil El'Zabar on the web.

Track Listing: Crumb-Puck-U-Lent; OOF; Freedom Flexibility; Big M; Kau; Maghoustut; Malachi.

Personnel: Kahil El'Zabar: drums, earth drums, kalimba, flute, vocal; Yosef Ben Israel: bass; Ari Brown: tenor saxophone, piano; Billy Bang: violin.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Delmark Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Cross My Palm With Silver CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read One Minute Later CD/LP/Track Review One Minute Later
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 28, 2017
Read JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800° CD/LP/Track Review JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800°
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Ephimeral CD/LP/Track Review Ephimeral
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Fly or Die CD/LP/Track Review Fly or Die
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Christmastime in New Orleans" CD/LP/Track Review Christmastime in New Orleans
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "The Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" CD/LP/Track Review The Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Atmosphères" CD/LP/Track Review Atmosphères
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 13, 2016
Read "Inhuman Wilderness" CD/LP/Track Review Inhuman Wilderness
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 6, 2016
Read "Second Impression" CD/LP/Track Review Second Impression
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Steelonious" CD/LP/Track Review Steelonious
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 6, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!