244

John Hebert: Byzantine Monkey

By

Sign in to view read count
John Hébert's Byzantine Monkey begins with a loop of the traditional "La Reine de la Salle" sung by Odile Falcon in an ancient reedy voice, Hébert's improvised bass joining in, his lines at once swift and empathetic, lyrical and microtonal, his sound deeply resonant and every metallic buzz of string and finger captured. It's an arresting moment, Hébert's Louisiana roots as palpable as his bass. Those roots are just as apparent when loop and bass cede the foreground to Tony Malaby's tenor and Michael Attias' alto, the two saxophonists playing the Cajun melody with enough grit and wail to suggest Albert Ayler and Charles Tyler playing on the Bayou. The performance sets a pattern of dense overlay and profound reflection that distinguishes Hébert's work here.

He's a musician whose bass is confident in the foreground and whose compositions consistently merge strong musical ideas with forceful emotions. Like Charles Mingus, Hébert enjoys developing turbulence at slow tempos as well as fast and there's real intensity in a performance like "Blind Pig" that comes from the sheer accumulation of voices, Attias' keening alto and the leader's bass complemented by the rattling drums and percussion of Nasheet Waits and Satoshi Takeishi. Malaby's multiphonic roar initially gives a dirge-like sound to "Ciao Monkey" and there's often a gravity here that comes from the sheer power of low frequencies, Attias sometimes doubling on baritone and Adam Kolker, present on half of the ten tracks, adding bass clarinet to his flutes.

Hébert has recorded a couple of these tunes before (in duo with pianist Russ Lossing on 2008's Line Up, on hatOLOGY), but "Blind Pig and "For A.H.," a tribute to the late Andrew Hill, take on a new power here while retaining much of their intimacy. While he has already distinguished himself as a bassist, this is a striking debut as a bandleader for Hébert, the group's sound, empathy and collective identity all testifying to his focused originality.

Track Listing: La Reine de la Salle; Acrid Landscape; Run For The Hills; Blind Pig; Ciao Monkey; Cajun Christmas; Fez; For A.H.; Fez II; New Belly.

Personnel: Michael Attias: alto sax, baritone sax; Tony Malaby: tenor sax, soprano sax; John Hebert: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums; Satoshi Takeishi: percussion; Adam Kolker: flute, alto flute, bass clarinet (2-4, 8)

Title: Byzantine Monkey | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Firehouse 12 Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "3rio" CD/LP/Track Review 3rio
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Another Place, Another Time" CD/LP/Track Review Another Place, Another Time
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 18, 2017
Read "Akua's Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "Umbrella Weather" CD/LP/Track Review Umbrella Weather
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "Strange Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Strange Circles
by Daniel Marx
Published: August 8, 2017
Read "Double Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Double Mirror
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 8, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.