All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Radio
CD/LP/Track Review
Profiles
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Floodgates

Floodgates

Clean Feed Records
2013

buy
Spiritual Lover

Spiritual Lover

Clean Feed Records
2010

buy
Byzantine Monkey

Byzantine Monkey

Firehouse 12 Records
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Circulate Susanna CD/LP/Track Review
Circulate Susanna
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Jazzamenco CD/LP/Track Review
Jazzamenco
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 13, 2018
Read You Have Options CD/LP/Track Review
You Have Options
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Heroes, Saints and Clowns CD/LP/Track Review
Heroes, Saints and Clowns
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Bowie, Berlin & Beyond CD/LP/Track Review
Bowie, Berlin & Beyond
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 13, 2018
Read For You CD/LP/Track Review
For You
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 12, 2018
Read "Ethio Jazz Volume One" CD/LP/Track Review Ethio Jazz Volume One
by Anya Wassenberg
Published: October 13, 2018
Read "Inminente" CD/LP/Track Review Inminente
by Matt Hooke
Published: March 26, 2018
Read "Along The Way" CD/LP/Track Review Along The Way
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 5, 2017
Read "Higher" CD/LP/Track Review Higher
by Jim Trageser
Published: August 16, 2018
Read "Outside the Soiree" CD/LP/Track Review Outside the Soiree
by Jerome Wilson
Published: June 12, 2018
Read "When Sunny Gets Blue: Spring ’68 Sessions" CD/LP/Track Review When Sunny Gets Blue: Spring ’68 Sessions
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 12, 2018