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Lew Tabackin: Jazz na Hrade

Ken Dryden By

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Lew Tabackin began to make his mark in the '60s, touring or recording with Maynard Ferguson, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Duke Pearson, Joe Henderson, Elvin Jones, Donald Byrd and The Tonight Show Band. From 1968-69, he was a main soloist with the Danish Radio Orchestra. He helped his wife, Toshiko Akiyoshi, to form her long-running jazz orchestra not long after they moved to California, taking part as its star soloist during its three decades of existence, though the veteran tenor saxophonist enjoyed occasional opportunities to record as a leader of his own small groups, typically piano-less sessions. Since the disbanding of the Akiyoshi-Tabackin Jazz Orchestra, Tabackin has recorded duets and quartets with his wife, in addition to his own trios and quartets utilizing other players, mostly for European and Japanese labels.

This 2009 concert in the Czech Republic was part of an ongoing festival produced, hosted, recorded and commercially issued by the country's president, Václav Klaus, who also serves as emcee at the start of the disc. Tabackin invited bassist Giuseppe Bassi and drummer Roberto Gatto to accompany him for a European tour, with trumpeter Flavio Boltro guesting on several tracks. Tabackin's tenor encompasses many facets of the great stylists of both swing and bop, while his flute has a more mystical, Far Eastern flavor.

Tabackin's robust tenor is magical in the songs from Duke Ellington's vast repertoire, including passionate takes of "What Am I Here For" and "In a Sentimental Mood." The interaction between Tabackin and Boltro in the introduction to "What is This Thing Called Love" is majestic, though the piece transforms into a smoldering, brisk bop setting with the addition of the rhythm section. The tenor saxophonist's hip treatment of Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism" is at times subtle but his humorous song quotes break that spell on occasion. Switching to flute, Tabackin revisits his exotic composition "Return to Pan," engaging in a vibrant duet with Gatto, utilizing over-blowing and sung lines à la Rahsaan Roland Kirk. His compelling take of John Coltrane's "Wise One" is a meditative masterpiece.

Track Listing: Úvod by Prezident Václav Klaus; What Am I Here For?; Wise One; Tricotism; Chasin' the Carrot; Return of Pan; What is This Thing Called Love; You Don't Know What Love Is; In a Sentimental Mood.

Personnel: Lew Tabackin: tenor saxophone, flute; Flavio Boltro: trumpet; Giuseppe Bassi: bass; Roberto Gatto: drums.

Title: Jazz na Hrade | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Multisonic Records


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