Tani Tabbal Trio
Veteran jazz drummer Tani Tabbal has worked with everyone from Roscoe Mitchell to Geri Allen, James Carter to Cassandra Wilson. He is equally at home playing free as the breeze and when ordered to lock down a strict groove. There’s a suppleness to the way he makes the sticks move – they kiss at the drums, he dabs and brushes at the skins like a painter approaching a fresh canvas. Here he leads a trio that features another veteran in bassist, Michael Bisio (Matthew Shipp Duo/Trio) and younger head on the alto sax, Adam Siegel.
Bisio is Mingus all over, deep, earthy tone – also in the hundreds of compositions he’s created for several large and small ensembles, Mingus is clearly a hero. Here we hear that straight away on opener, Arrested Confusion. But particularly on the following tune, Just Woke Up. It’s Bisio that has the spring in his step for this tune, since the title has warned us already and Siegel is purposely sleepy in slow, large wafts, still tucked in nicely under the sheets of sound, while Tabbal will flick at the corner of the duvet with a stick but also doesn’t want to get out of bed. Bisio is busying the breakfast and starting the day, cooking a fierce groove beneath them
For the most part Tabbal and Bisio sit back and let Sigel blow – he’s got Ornette Coleman’s tone but Sonny Rollins’ playfulness on Khusenaton, and he settles into a lovely flute-like waft across Sun History Ra Mystery, as Tabbal colours with cymbals beneath.
There are delirious bop workouts (the title track) and barely a ballad in sight – but tribute is paid to many of the greats, and there’s such a great display of wonderful playing throughout; it’s only wise older heads that can sit back like this and take their turn only when it comes. To that end, Tabbal’s solo on closer, Inky Bud, is a blur of Blakey-ness.
Now Then just burns right through you. It’s a wonderful record of thrilling trio jazz.