1

Billy Bang: Da Bang!

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
On April 10, 2011, the music world lost one of the foremost innovators of the violin, Billy Bang. In addition to boldly pushing the instrument's boundaries, he is one of the rare jazz players who left an indelible mark on it. The Finnish TUM label posthumously released Bang's swan song, recorded a mere two months before his untimely death from lung cancer.

Da Bang! is a sublime album of rich harmonies, multifaceted emotions, and tight, intellectually stimulating spontaneity. The lone original, "Daydreams," is also its centerpiece, opening with pianist Andrew Bemkey's wistful and nocturnesque sonata that shimmers in muted colors. Bang's eloquent and longing strings unfold with intense expressiveness and nostalgic flair. Bassist Hilliard Greene's deeply lyrical and pensive reverberations enhance the edgy and subtle melancholy. Out of this somber atmosphere, Bang's exhilarating, free flowing violin emerges with an energetic virtuosity that imbues its delightful atonality with exuberance tinged with a touch of sorrow.

Saxophonist Sonny Rollins' classic "St Thomas" closes the CD on a festive note, Bang's playful violin leading the band in a series of bright and effervescent sonic pirouettes. Trombonist Dick Griffin's ardent and rough hewn sound adds a sun-drenched warmth to the piece while Greene handles the bass with the facility of a large guitar as he pours forth remarkably intricate and tuneful pizzicato tones. Drummer Newman Taylor Baker's marching and swinging beats conclude the cut with extroverted acrobatics full of joie de vivre.

Bang's melodic and African-tinged muscular violin opens trumpeter Don Cherry's "Guinea." As he builds raw and haunting poetry with his slapping and bowing, elements of 20th century western classical music enter his intricate solo. He leads the group in a hypnotic and lilting refrain that expands on the intriguing musical ideas that form the tune's core. Griffin's bluesy growl adds an earthiness to the melody, while Taylor- Baker's visceral polyrhythms bring a primal timelessness to it.

The track contrasts nicely with altoist Ornette Coleman penned "Law Years." This darker and more elegiac composition features Bemkey's intelligent and heady pianism, which flows mystically over the bass-and-drum duo's raggedy and organic beats. Bang's own improvisation is perhaps the most intriguingly aspect of the record. His passionate pyrotechniques are tempered by a contemplative solemnity, combining maturity and an intrepid spirit.

This landmark release comes with liner notes full of informative and though-provoking essays by the likes of poet Amiri Baraka and writer Quincy Troupe, as well as session photos and musician profiles. The blues-inspired abstract cover art fits the music perfectly, and the disc itself is both a memorial for Bang and a reminder that his creative legacy is very much alive.

Track Listing: Da Bang; Guinea; Daydreams; Law Years; All Blues; St Thomas.

Personnel: Billy Bang: violin; Dick Griffin: trombone; Andrew Bemkey: piano; Hilliard Greene: bass; Newman Taylor-Baker: drums.

Title: Da Bang! | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: TUM Records

Tags

Watch

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.

Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Da Bang!

Da Bang!

TUM Records
2013

buy
Billy Bang's Survival Ensemble: Black Man’s Blues / New York Collage

Billy Bang's Survival...

NoBusiness Records
2011

buy
 

Billy Bang - Bill Cole

Point of Departure, WMPG-FM
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Terra Incognita Album Reviews
Terra Incognita
By Karl Ackermann
July 22, 2019
Read Bedroom Tapes Album Reviews
Bedroom Tapes
By John Bricker
July 22, 2019
Read Calenture and Light Leaks Album Reviews
Calenture and Light Leaks
By Don Phipps
July 22, 2019
Read Invincible Nimbus Album Reviews
Invincible Nimbus
By Mike Jurkovic
July 22, 2019
Read Down & Dirty Album Reviews
Down & Dirty
By Jack Bowers
July 21, 2019
Read Sublunary Minds Album Reviews
Sublunary Minds
By Troy Dostert
July 21, 2019
Read Peace Planet & Box of Light Album Reviews
Peace Planet & Box of Light
By Don Phipps
July 21, 2019