All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Ravish Momin: Climbing the Banyan Tree


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


comments powered by Disqus

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

After The Disquiet

Self Produced

Miren (A Longing)

Miren (A Longing)

Clean Feed Records



Not Two Records

Climbing the Banyan Tree

Climbing the Banyan...

Clean Feed Records


Related Articles

Read This City CD/LP/Track Review
This City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 24, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2018
Read West Coast Trio CD/LP/Track Review
West Coast Trio
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Sun Embassy CD/LP/Track Review
Sun Embassy
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 24, 2018
Read The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel – Beethoven Revisited Symphonies 1-9 CD/LP/Track Review
The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "The Poetry of Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review The Poetry of Jazz
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 16, 2018
Read "For the Love of You" CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "The Seasons" CD/LP/Track Review The Seasons
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 11, 2017
Read "Improcreations" CD/LP/Track Review Improcreations
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 2, 2018
Read "Is It Me...?" CD/LP/Track Review Is It Me...?
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 7, 2017