3

Billy Bang: Da Bang!

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Billy Bang: Da Bang! Da Bang! is the last studio album recorded by violinist Billy Bang, made just two months before he passed away on April 11, 2011. Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009, Bang spoke about the healing power of music during these sessions and how he wanted to give something back to those who inspired and supported him. Considering the bulk of the record consists of covers, this final effort can be interpreted as the innovative violinist's elegy to the artists and music he most loved.

The assembled quintet features legendary trombonist Dick Griffin, a former sideman to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Charles Mingus and Sun Ra, performing alongside members of Bang's touring band, including pianist Andrew Bemkey, bassist Hilliard Greene and drummer Newman Taylor Baker. Prayer for Peace, Bang's previous TUM Records release from 2008, presented a similar lineup, with trumpeter James Zollar and bassist Todd Nicholson in place of Griffin and Greene.

Conceptually centered around the meditative opus "Daydreams," Bang's sole compositional contribution, Da Bang! serves as a notable reminder of the leader's visionary approach. Originally conceived as a solo piece for violin, this rendition is bolstered by minimal accompaniment and introspective musings from Bemkey and Greene. Bang's bracing unaccompanied soliloquy dominates the piece however; with no obvious diminishment in sound or technique he transcends stylistic limitations, seamlessly blending folksy lyricism and neo-classical formalism with bold avant-garde flourishes. His sinuous phrasing and earthy tone remain unmistakable, expressing the same raw expressionism heard in his seminal 1970s efforts with the String Trio of New York.

The remainder of the date is comprised of classic tunes by Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, with the titular opener written by drummer Barry Altschul, Bang's partner in the long-running FAB Trio with bassist Joe Fonda. Coleman's "Law Years" is delivered in suitably rugged fashion, while Cherry's "Guinea" offers the most salient example of Bang's inspired virtuosity, with sinewy double-stops, woody pizzicato and exotic arco harmonics evoking Eastern tonalities. Gorgeous collaborative readings of "All Blues" and "St. Thomas" conclude the set; the former unfolds as a hypnotic waltz, the latter an ebullient calypso.

Although Bang rightfully predominates as principal soloist throughout the proceedings, ample space is allotted for his sidemen. The rhythm section's sensitive, swinging accompaniment conveys palpable fervor, their congenial interplay reinforced by Griffin, whose brassy exhortations provide blustery counterpoint to the leader's soaring extrapolations.

Though certainly not the last addition to Bang's discography (more posthumous releases are forthcoming), Da Bang! is nonetheless a poignant farewell from a singular artist whose creative legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations.


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

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

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: TUM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Columbia Years 1968-1969" CD/LP/Track Review Columbia Years 1968-1969
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 4, 2016
Read "Short Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Short Stories
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "Innri" CD/LP/Track Review Innri
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2016
Read "Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!