All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Ravish Momin's Trio Tarana: Climbing the Banyan Tree


Sign in to view read count
Drummer-led albums can be somewhat pale affairs. After all, the ability to swing hard and play various grooves does in itself not necessarily suffice to create well-rounded, highly personal pieces of music. Climbing the Banyan Tree, though, is different. It is all about melody, the central element in bandleader Momin's approach to drums.

Rather than more or less enthusiastically swaying through his parts in set tempos, Momin builds up tension by pulling back and forth his time, in the way of a singer or a violin player. Hunched over his carefully tuned drum kit and various percussion items, he concentrates on building a dynamic scope of attack and tone shaping. As such he follows a path that before him has been trodden by people like Andrew Cyrille (who was one of Momin's teachers) and, within a somewhat more traditional framework, Chico Hamilton.

Through the efforts of Momin's sidemen (Shanir Blumenkranz on bass and oud, Jason Hwang on violin) the combination of instruments works very well together. With the percussion weaving in and out, oud and arco violin freely circle around each other, as do bass and pizzicato violin, the pizzicato violin at times assuming the function of the oud. The oud is a fretless Arabic lute, which carries an age-old, highly respectful musical tradition in the Near East.

In the local way of making music each musician organizes his part from the same melody, depending on the characteristics of his instrument. Intonation then becomes an art in itself, giving way to much more melodic subtlety than is possible in the rather clunky Western well-tempered system, as exemplified in any given keyboard instrument.

One could compare the basic approach of these musicians to this Arabic concept of performing, albeit with a much more free sense of improvising. Hwang's very musical glissandos and skillful intonation only deal with the terror of well-tempered tuning when he feels like it. As such, his well-versed playing skills dip into the full potential of his instrument. Blumenkranz keeps his bass and oud parts a bit more close to the ground, but very effective and musical nonetheless.

As the great Willie Dixon remarked, Arabic music has the same feel as blues. One might describe this music as highly improvised Oriental blues.

Although Momin's compositions at times suffer from a triadic simplicity which goes a bit too far beyond plain folksy, these players are so well versed in the concepts of improvisation that they don't let a minor detail like that inhibit them.

Climbing the Banyan Tree is a pearl of a record, as unassuming as it is beautiful. Idiosyncratic as the basic idea may sound, from its extended improvisational stylings it manages to present us through its universal bluesiness with a deeply enjoyable, high quality listening experience.

Track Listing: 1.Dai Genyo; 2.Weeping statue; 3.Instance of memory; 4.Peace for Kabul; 5. Gyarah; 6.Song at dusk; 7.String drum tarana; 8.Gathering; 9.Parting with a view

Personnel: Ravish Momin-drums, percussion, voice, percussion; Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz-bass, oud; Jason Kao Hwang-violin.

Title: Climbing the Banyan Tree | Year Released: 2004


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 Wherever You're Starting From CD/LP/Track Review
Wherever You're Starting From
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery CD/LP/Track Review
Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 21, 2018
Read From Silence to Somewhere CD/LP/Track Review
From Silence to Somewhere
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Never Bet The Devil Your Head CD/LP/Track Review
Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 21, 2018
Read The Questions CD/LP/Track Review
The Questions
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Meerkat Parade CD/LP/Track Review
Meerkat Parade
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2018
Read "Petite Afrique" CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Straight Ahead From Havana" CD/LP/Track Review Straight Ahead From Havana
by James Nadal
Published: June 6, 2017
Read "Expedition" CD/LP/Track Review Expedition
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Jorg Schippa's Kiosk" CD/LP/Track Review Jorg Schippa's Kiosk
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "Use Your Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Use Your Imagination
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 21, 2017
Read "Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House" CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018