All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

651

Tal Wilkenfeld: Transformation

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Some artists emerge slowly, taking years to find their way to public attention; others leap seemingly instantaneously into the public eye. Australian-born, US-based bassist Tal Wilkenfeld has gone from sitting in with Allman Brothers Band in 2006 to working with pianist Chick Corea and Jeff Beck, heard recently on the guitarist's Performing This Week...Live at Ronnie Scott's (Eagle Records, 2008). What's not apparent on Beck's CD—but can be seen on the DVD version of the same release—is his almost constant state of disbelief when watching the diminutive, early-twenties Wilkenfeld. There are plenty of bassists with staggering technique and chops, but few can make the instrument truly sing, as Wilkenfeld does on Beck's CD during an all-stops-out solo on Stevie Wonder's "'Cause We've Ended as Lovers."

Wilkenfeld possesses all the requisite chops and uses them to terrific advantage on Transformation, her 2007 debut as a leader, released prior to hitting the road with Beck. As with Beck, she proves herself a potent groove-meister, in this case working hand-in-glove with Keith Carlock, best-known as Steely Dan's recent drummer of choice, both on the road and on its last release, Everything Must Go (Reprise, 2003). The grooves are rich and visceral on this set of Wilkenfeld originals (one, the beautifully balladic "Truth Be Told," co-written with Transformation's keyboardist, the ever-tasteful Geoffrey Keezer), with solo space aplenty and a less restrictive format allowing Carlock greater freedom than in The Dan's more defined context.

Possessing a deep lyricism rare enough in electric bassists, but especially in this largely fusion-esque context, Wilkenfeld's a fingers-only player who largely eschews string-popping and slapping techniques, though she heads for that territory briefly on "Serendipity," managing to be be both rhythm anchor and lead voice. Largely, however, she aims for a warm tone and a way of sliding in and around her notes reminiscent of ex-Weather Report bassist Alphonso Johnson and King Crimson/Peter Gabriel alum Tony Levin.

Wilkenfeld's writing is filled with knotty, often high velocity lines either in counterpoint or concert with guitarist Wayne Krantz, who delivers some of his most focused, funkified and harmonically outré playing in years; a strong foil for Wilkenfeld and a player who's always deserved more cred than he's been afforded. Saxophonist Seamus Blake, normally heard on more modern mainstream settings, combines spare soulfulness with bop-inflected lines on the medium tempo "Table for One," while Keezer delivers one of his best solos of the set on the fierier "Oatmeal Bandage," while also features a rare solo spot for Carlock that suggests he, like Krantz, deserves considerably more attention.

But even when the music is filled with complex, intertwining lines that prove the mettle of everyone involved even as they avoid any trappings of excess, it still grooves in a booty-shaking way—even when Wilkenfeld challenges with shifting meters. For those who've discovered Wilkenfeld via her work with Jeff Beck, the thoroughly exciting Transformation provides an even broader window into this remarkable bassist with a promising future.

Track Listing: BC; Cosmic Joke; Truth Be Told; Serendipity; The River of Life; Oatmeal Bandage; Table for One.

Personnel: Tal Wilkenfeld: bass; Wayne Krantz: guitar; Geoffrey Keezer: piano, keyboards; Keith Carlock: drums; Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone.

Title: Transformation | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Fearless And Kind CD/LP/Track Review
Fearless And Kind
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read 25th Anniversary Project CD/LP/Track Review
25th Anniversary Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Any Day Now CD/LP/Track Review
Any Day Now
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Adrift CD/LP/Track Review
Adrift
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Folkjazz from Finland CD/LP/Track Review
Folkjazz from Finland
by Anthony Shaw
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Circulate Susanna CD/LP/Track Review
Circulate Susanna
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 13, 2018
Read "Stringscapes: A Portrait of the World in Nylon & Steel" CD/LP/Track Review Stringscapes: A Portrait of the World in Nylon & Steel
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 11, 2018
Read "Food Foragers" CD/LP/Track Review Food Foragers
by Don Phipps
Published: March 13, 2018
Read "Neo Native" CD/LP/Track Review Neo Native
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 9, 2018
Read "Turbulence" CD/LP/Track Review Turbulence
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Tall Tales And Alibis" CD/LP/Track Review Tall Tales And Alibis
by Doug Collette
Published: March 11, 2018
Read "Be Cool" CD/LP/Track Review Be Cool
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 7, 2018