The core of Daybreak features the imaginative teaming of guitarist Ken Wessel, the infamous Indian percussionist Badal Roy both members of Ornette Coleman’s “Prime Time”, and bassist Stomu Takeishi who has performed and toured with Henry Threadgill among others. Besides stints with famous bands, these gentlemen are highly regarded session musicians whom individually, can boast of fairly extensive and impressive resumes. On Daybreak the menu consists of jazz, world music and improvisation as the overall congenial disposition and uplifting groove makes for a most gratifying listening experience which commences with “Up The Middle”. With this piece, the trio incorporate a strong melody line and a bouncy rhythmic structure supplied by tabla master, Badal Roy along with guest artist Tim Ries who assists with some muscular tenor sax work. Here, Ries effectively utilizes just about all of the registers on tenor sax and contrasts nicely with Wessel’s smooth plucking and melodic phrasing. The composition simply titled, “Ballad” features some crafty East Indian type phrasing by Wessel as he insinuates a theme followed by Roy on tablas as bassist Takeishi articulates distinct lead bass lines and serves as the bonding element among the trio. It’s all about good-natured fun within a seemingly relaxed atmosphere filled with cross-genre stylizations yet extremely palatable or accessible. Tim Ries’ light-as-a-feather flute work on “Testimony” elicits a North African style motif as Takeishi once again acts as the enforcer with lyrically rich yet solid electric bass work. Wessel and Ries converge while performing delightfully memorable unison lines as.... East meets West.
One of the prime attributes here is how the lead soloists pursue jazz-based improvisation and on occasion turn things up a notch or two as Wessel cranks up the volume on his ax or when Ries soars skyward on the piece titled, “Kegochi Lebu”. The duo turn up the heat on this tune as Roy and Takeishi chug along in sinewy yet purposeful fashion. On “Procession”, Ries picks up his soprano sax while engaging a steamy or heated approach which meshes well with Wessel’s well defined chord progressions as the intensity rises a bit, yet the execution and attack remains fairly even-tempered. The musicians seem relatively self contained and rarely partake in lengthy chops fests or cutting contests. All in good taste!
Daybreak is not pretentious or loaded with pyrotechnics and bravado......This band concentrate and remain focused within the composition while everything else seems to flow rather naturally! Recommended...* * * ½
Badal Roy; Tablas, Percussion: Ken Wessel; Guitars: Stomu Takeishi; Electric Bass and Acoustic Bass Guitar:
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.