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Jamaaladeen Tacuma & Wolfgang Puscnig: Journey Into Gemini Territory

Glenn Astarita By

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Monster bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and veteran reedman Wolfgang Puschnig take on familiar territory with this new release. Tacuma, who has released several solo CDs over the years is best known for his affiliations with Ornette Coleman and the Music Revolutionary Ensemble.

Tacuma, known for his monster chops on the instrument, has few peers. Puschnig performs dutifully on the alto sax, flute and synthesizer. Puschnig has been somewhat of a mainstay with the Carla Bley Big Band over the years among several other projects. Special guests includes Tim Motzer on guitar, Dave Farciani on keyboards and Adam Guth on drums. These names are unfamiliar to me. Overall, this recording treads previously chartered waters. Nothing excitingly new but somewhat entertaining.

The first cut, "Unto The Unknown/The Seven Steps" is a 24 minute slow moving electric / funk 2 / 4 endeavor. Tacuma as expected lays down the funk groove while the others playfully dart around the theme. Puschnig controls the melody and performs most of the soloing on the alto and flute. Basically, this cut could have been chopped in half. Not enough going on here to sustain 24 minutes of interest. The tempo almost never changes; although, the melody line is quite enticing. This cut seems reminiscent of early 80's forays into electric / funk jazz — the days when jazz musicians explored crossover attempts for commercial acceptance et al.

The second cut, "Resting Place," is a 360 degree turn around, a somber two minute duet between pianist Farciani and the lovely sax stylings of Puschnig. "Venture Full Force Ahead" has Weather Report written all over it. Tacuma's bass intro conjures vivid memories of bassist Alphonso Johnson's lead-ins on early Weather Report recordings. Farciani's piano (most likely a Fender Rhodes) employs that "Zawinul sound," resulting in a nice upbeat venture with Tacuma's slick repetitive bass line providing the foundation for Puschnig's explosive sax soloing. The fourth cut, "Dimensional Shift Barren Space," is an odd meter duet between Tacuma and Puschnig. Tacuma once again shows his expertise, sticking with the upper registers of the instrument here. Puschnig's sax is mixed in the background on this tune; therefore it serves mainly as a vehicle for Tacuma's soloing.

The final cut is "Outer Space / Inner Space Meeting of Beginning and End," which is an upbeat synth / funk number. Tacuma exploits his talents here running impossible scales all over the place. A seasoned veteran and master craftsman, he never detracts from the tune. Young bassists take note !

This entire CD clocks in at 44 minutes. My recommendations are guarded. If you are a Tacuma and / or Puschnig fan than buy it. Otherwise, I would advocate sampling this at your local CD store before taking the plunge.


Title: Journey Into Gemini Territory | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: ITMP

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