All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

305

Ravish Momin: Climbing the Banyan Tree

By

Sign in to view read count
For his second date as a leader in five years, drummer Ravish Momin has assembled a trio with a truly diverse range of interests and a value expanding on much of the Afro-Asian influence that has entered the jazz canon. Late of Kalaparush and The Light and the groups of reedman Sabir Mateen, Momin studied tabla and Indian rhythms in addition to jazz drumming, and this fleetness comes through in his approach to the kit—his drumsticks tapping the snare with the lightness of fingertips. Momin is joined in Tarana by violinist Jason Kao Hwang, a veteran of the New York improvising community who has worked extensively with William Parker and gained notoriety in the early '80s with Commitment (featuring Parker and tenor firebrand Will Connell, Jr.); and bass-oud doubler Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, a recent stalwart of John Zorn's ensembles.

Though it's ostensibly composed from Indian rhythmic patterns (Momin wrote all but two of the tunes on this disc), the ensemble voicings of the music are divergent from such a particular tradition. The combination of oud and violin bring North African and Turkish elements into the proceedings, with Blumenkranz's tone on oud approaching higher-pitched instruments like the Turkish saz. Hwang's violin is slippery and acerbic, a quality that imbues much Indian and Chinese string playing—one might even wonder if he plays the instrument between his knees, in traditional gliss-friendly fashion (listen to the opener, "Dai Genyo," for proof). It is rare indeed among such improvisational fusions to see this degree of seamlessness. There have been precedents—bassist/oudist Ahmed Abdul-Malik hit such a stride on East Meets West (RCA, 1960)—but Tarana sounds complete.

The gorgeous "Peace for Kabul" starts with a courtly dance for pizzicato violin and oud before the trio sets into a funky, eliding theme, as Hwang creates a conversation for himself, underpinned by the pliant groove of Momin and Blumenkranz. Blumenkranz takes a very free oud solo before the theme returns, ending with a crescendoed coda. "Gathering Song," like the practice that inspires it, builds from the circular percussion motifs that steadily expand and contract, driving unbridled solos from Hwang and Blumenkranz's oud and returning to a framework that bounces between minimalist intensity and a playful nursery-rhyme quality.

It is fair to say that Tarana is without precedent in improvised music. A true synthesis of North African, South and East Asian motifs with classical organization and the immediacy of free improv has probably not existed prior to Climbing the Banyan Tree.


Track Listing: Dai Genyo; Weeping Statue; Instance of Memory; Peace for Kabul; Gyarah; Song at Dusk; String Drum Tarana; Gathering Song; Parting With a View

Personnel: Ravish Momin (d, perc., voc); Jason Kao Hwang (vln); Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (b, oud)

Title: Climbing the Banyan Tree | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
After The Disquiet

After The Disquiet

Self Produced
2011

buy
Miren (A Longing)

Miren (A Longing)

Clean Feed Records
2007

buy
:FiveNights:

:FiveNights:

Not Two Records
2006

buy
Climbing the Banyan Tree

Climbing the Banyan...

Clean Feed Records
2005

buy

Related Articles

Read Dirt...And More Dirt CD/LP/Track Review
Dirt...And More Dirt
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Brother Raymond CD/LP/Track Review
Brother Raymond
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Frescalalto CD/LP/Track Review
Frescalalto
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Motion CD/LP/Track Review
Motion
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 22, 2018
Read El Duende CD/LP/Track Review
El Duende
by Chris Mosey
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Walk The Walk CD/LP/Track Review
Walk The Walk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 21, 2018
Read "The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow" CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read "Animal Image" CD/LP/Track Review Animal Image
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 4, 2018
Read "Clareia" CD/LP/Track Review Clareia
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: January 9, 2018
Read "Trollskogen" CD/LP/Track Review Trollskogen
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 22, 2017
Read "Blues and Boogie Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Blues and Boogie Vol. 1
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2017
Read "Silent Voices" CD/LP/Track Review Silent Voices
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: August 4, 2017