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

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Times and Tides" CD/LP/Track Review Times and Tides
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Around The Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Around The Horn
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau" CD/LP/Track Review Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "Strykin’ Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Strykin’ Ahead
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 30, 2017
Read "Living Tribute" CD/LP/Track Review Living Tribute
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "@etude" CD/LP/Track Review @etude
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 17, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.