Da Bang was recorded two months before violinist Billy Bang's battle with cancer ended in April, 2011. The album title is lifted from Bang's former FAB Trio band mate, drummer Barry Altschul. Indeed, Bang was an influential presence, partly due to his cutting-edge improvisational faculties. He was an artiste markedly comfortable in most any setting. On this outing, Bang covers modern jazz standards and contributes one original composition.
The quartet gels on the late Don Cherry's "Guinea," which was originally recorded for Old and New Dreams' self-titled album, released in 1979 by ECM Records. From the onset, Bang's superior and distinct improvisational acuity comes to the forefront, as he opens the piece by grating and patting the violin strings to set the rhythmic parameters for the ensuing groove. Bang firmly establishes the primary ostinato-based theme, patterned on a buoyant jazz waltz motif atop Hilliard Greene's corpulent bass lines. Moving forward, he lets loose with a continuum of artful improvisational processes, spanning all tonal ranges amid swirling staccato lines and a touch of humor, as he revises the main melody and revs up the pace, moving towards the finale.
Even though, due to his illness, Bang may not have been operating at 100%, his artistic brilliance and total command of the jazz vernacular is passionately conveyed here and throughout the program.
Da Bang; Guinea; Daydreams; Law Years; All Blues; St Thomas.
Billy Bang: violin; Dick Griffin: trombone; Andrew Bemkey: piano;
Hilliard Greene: bass;
Newman Taylor-Baker: drums.