Israeli saxophonist/clarinetist Assif Tsahar
has deep roots in the free-jazz genre, having played with Cecil Taylor
, Butch Morris
, Peter Kowald
, Fred Anderson
, Ken Vandermark
, Herb Robertson
, and many others. Among his other associations are two albums with bassist William Parker
, Sunrise in the Tone World
(AUM Fidelity, 1995) and Mass for the Healing of the World
(Black Saint, 1998), and a European release with Hamid Drake
, Live At Glenn Miller Cafè, Soul Bodies, Vol. 2
(Ayler Records, 2002). Parker and Drake join Tsahar on this trio release In Between the Tumbling a Stillness
The trio format is a familiar and comfortable one for Tsahar. He has recorded in the formation with Cooper-Moore
and Drake, Mat Maneri
and Jim Black
, Rashied Ali
and Kowald, and Mark Dresser
and Gerry Hemingway
. In all cases the reedist pushes the boundaries far, and in all directions, without letting the music go off the rails completely.
The live recording features three improvisations, the first two, extended. "In Between" is ambitious at over twenty-four minutes. It is an endurance test for Tsahar who weaves in and out of blistering runs, infusing fast-paced melodies for much of the piece, finally stepping back long enough to allow Drake and Parker some inventive interplay. "The Tumbling" is a fiery, visceral fourteen minutes that is more stationary, even as Tsahar leaves more air for Parker, and especially Drake, who shines here. "A Stillness" goes from frenetic to tranquil, bridged by the drummer, who retains a liquidity even through fairly drastic alterations. In Between the Tumbling a Stillness
is full of small musical enigmas, shapes that feel familiar but shift before they can be recognized. Within each piece the connection between the three artists is palpable; they are approachable toward each other, keeping ears open in swiftly-moving scenarios. Parker deftly navigates abrupt deviations on his own imaginative terms, Drake's grooves are infectious as always, and Tsahar demonstrates that he ranks among the best free-jazz saxophonists. A thought-provoking, high-energy album.
In Between; The Tumbling; A Stillness.
Assif Tsahar: reeds; William Parker: bass; Hamid Drake: drums.