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 for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Radio
Album Reviews
Profiles
Album Reviews
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 Phoenix Rising Album Reviews
Phoenix Rising
By Jack Bowers
June 24, 2019
Read Last Works Album Reviews
Last Works
By Doug Hall
June 24, 2019
Read The Change Album Reviews
The Change
By Roger Farbey
June 24, 2019
Read City Night Album Reviews
City Night
By Doug Collette
June 24, 2019
Read Waves Album Reviews
Waves
By John Eyles
June 23, 2019
Read Elevate Album Reviews
Elevate
By Doug Collette
June 23, 2019
Read Connor Sings — Kenton Swings Album Reviews
Connor Sings — Kenton Swings
By Jack Bowers
June 23, 2019