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Tohpati: Tribal Dance

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Indonesian composer, producer and guitarist Tohpati continues his march toward dominating the jazz-rock fusion guitar world with Tribal Dance. Written and produced by the guitarist, this electrifying Dance was recorded live in a Los Angeles studio then finished in Indonesia, and is credited to "Tohpati featuring Jimmy Haslip and Chad Wackerman." Haslip and Wackerman previously worked together on the 2010 MoonJune set Blues for Tony, to honor the untimely passing in 2007 of drummer, composer and Lifetime bandleader Tony Williams, and their previous experience playing together helps them provide Tohpati with rhythm section that's a genuine rhythmic force. So much color and energy explodes from this set.

Even though Tohpati has a unique guitar sound, it reflects the brilliance of other exceptional guitarists. "Rahwana" erupts in a blazing and brilliant jazz-rock ensemble voice with dynamics that leap from fusion jazz to hard rock to heavy metal (changes that Jeff Beck fans will thoroughly enjoy); Haslip rolls through blues riffs like a locomotive while Wackerman nails down an articulate yet monstrous beat. In "Run," Tohpati's opening riff washes up from the shores of Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Texas Flood" before exploding like metallic shrapnel into multiple directions, then scratching out itchy funk rhythm guitar that keeps time behind Haslip's head-spinning bass solo. The spirit of Al Di Meola screams through the Latin-tinged jazz-rock fusion of the wonderfully descriptive "Supernatural"—Tohpati's speed, dexterity and power on guitar does sometime sound otherworldly.

Blues guitar, rippling over drums and percussion, flows through rock guitar into the "Spirit of Java" along with the vibrant tones, rhythms and scales of music from Indonesia. (Wackerman busts the last several minutes of this tune apart, pounding it like a hurricane crashing onto shore.) The title track sprawls through several movements, opening with vocal, percussion and crowd noise samples that part like morning mist for Tohpati's warm and bright, dawning guitar melody; Wackerman swaps pushing the tempo ahead with pulling it back, creating rhythmic tension for Haslip's deep bass to thunder through.

Even though Haslip and Wackerman contribute so much, it somehow seems fitting that this Tribal Dance concludes with the solo guitar meditation "Midnight Rain."

Track Listing: Rahwana; Spirit of Java; Tribal Dance; Red Mask; Savana; Run; Supernatural; Midnight Rain.

Personnel: Tohpati: guitar; Jimmy Haslip: bass guitar; Chad Wackerman: drums.

Title: Tribal Dance | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Moonjune Records

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