Reviews that mention Assif Tsahar

April 7, 2016

Artist Feature

Chad Taylor
By Ken Waxman

Modestly drummer Chad Taylor declares: “Being a band leader is a lot of work and effort for me. Some people have a natural gift for leading a band, but I’m not one of them.” Still the Brooklyn-based percussionist works as often as most leaders. For a start the Windy City-raised Taylor, 43, is, with cornetist Rob Mazurek, one half of the Chicago Underground Duo (CUD) plus the CU’s other iterations. He’s also one-third of Digital Primitives with multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore and saxophonist Assif Tsahar, and locally can be found gigging with everyone from Marc Ribot to Steve Swell. Plus he still plays, usually overseas, with his Chicago hommies. “I really enjoy working with people with the goal of creating a language regardless of what style it is,” he affirms. MORE

December 1, 2014

Digital Primitives

Lipsomuch/Soul Searchin’
Hopscotch Records HOP51

One dictionary definition of primitive is “being the first or earliest of the kind”, whereas digital can be defined as “available in electronic form”. Consequently you come to the underlying impetus for this trio, which disseminates in the most contemporary manner sounds produced by acoustic instruments, some of which pre-date modernity.

While that description may make the Digital Primitives sound affectedly retrograde, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the group, which has been together on-and-off for a decade or more, consists of three of the world’s busiest improvisers. Israeli-born Assif Tsahar, who plays tenor saxophone, bass clarinet and m’bira, here spent years in New York working with the likes of William Parker before resettling in Tel Aviv. Drummer Chad Taylor, best known for his affiliation with many Chicago Underground projects, lives in Jersey City. While New Yorker Cooper-Moore, otherwise an erudite piano explorer, here works out on the most primitive of the instruments: diddly-bo, twinger, mouth bow and fretless banjo. MORE

September 26, 2014

Assif Tsahar/Mark Dresser/Gerry Hemingway

Code Re(a)d
Hopscotch Records HOP48

Jon Irabagon

It Takes All Kinds

JazzWerkstatt JW 139

Two youngish tenor saxophonists provide their own takes on the classic sax-double bass-drums formation with these discs attaining, but not surpassing, the praxis defined by progenitors like Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler and Joe Henderson. Very much Free Jazz rather than Free Music, each CD has eight tracks and each is splendidly performed. The main demarcation is that Jon Irabagon’s It Takes All Kinds is a saxophone tour-de-force backed by a veteran rhythm section, whereas Code Re(a)d is more of a group effort with contributions from reedist Assif Tsahar, bassist Mark Dresser and percussionist Gerry Hemingway. MORE

February 21, 2010

Günter Baby Sommer

Live in Jerusalem
Kadima Collective KCR 19

Ulher/Shibolet/Snir/Brenner/Mayer/Smith/Bymel

Yclept

Balance Point Acoustics BPA 014

Fraught with extra-musical baggage, the idea of a co-operative session between German and Israeli improvisers seems bizarre. Yet, as these first-rate CDs demonstrate, commitment to free-form experimentation and open-minded sound extension overcomes any number of polemics. The only people who likely will be surprised, shocked or offended by such cross-cultural understanding are those whose ignorance of Middle Eastern realpolitik is likewise endemic. MORE

June 22, 2006

Umberto Petrin

Voir Loin
Spasc(H) CDH 832.2

As involved with poetry and visual art as music, Italian pianist Umberto Petrin has long been concerned with a melding of these three lively arts. A published poet as well as a painter, his collaborations have ranged from those with metaphysical painter Walter Lazzaro and Italian poet Luigi Pasotelli to expected ones with top-flight improvising musicians such as alto saxophonist Lee Konitz and trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini – not to mention his membership in the Italian Instabile Orchestra. MORE

May 7, 2006

QUINSIN NACHOFF

Magic Numbers
Songlines SGL SA1556-2

ASSIF TSAHAR
Solitude
Hopscotch Records HOP 36

Conventional and unconventional methods of recording with a string quartet are highlighted on these CDs directed by vastly different reed players.

On MAGIC NUMBERS Toronto-based tenor and soprano saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff has taken the traditional route – composing eight pieces that feature him, plus New Yorkers, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Jim Black, improvising in front of a quartet of Montreal string players. In vivid contrast, except for the Duke Ellington-penned title track, all the pieces on SOLITUDE are instant compositions with Brooklyn-based tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist Assif Tsahar giving equal prominence to percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and members of the KJLA String Quartet. MORE

April 17, 2006

ASSIF TSAHAR/COOPER-MOORE/HAMID DRAKE

Lost Brother
Hopscotch Records HOP 33

LOST BROTHER seems to be a misnomer, at least if it’s supposed to apply to any of the performers on this trio CD. For if any one of Chicago drummer Hamid Drake and New Yorkers, reedist Assif Tsahar and multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore, was ever a “lost brother” he’s certainly found himself as evidenced by this CD. Furthermore so collaborative is their improvising here that you’d think that the three are reuniting musical siblings.

In truth the Israeli-born Tsahar, Louisiana-born Drake and the Virginia-born Cooper-Moore met and first played together as adults. All have extensive recording histories – especially Drake, who seems to have played with nearly every musician from A (Sardinian guitarist Paolo Angeli) to Z (Chicago percussionist Michael Zerang) – and each of the other two has recorded in duo with Tsahar. But this is the three players’ first trio session, with the nine instant compositions giving each enough space in which to express himself. Each is proficient on more than one instrument. Tsahar plays both tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Drake drums, tablas and frame drums, and Cooper-Moore ashimba, twanger and diddley-bow. MORE

July 17, 2005

MASASHI HARADA CONDANCTION ENSEMBLE

Enterprising Mass of Cilia (2001)
Emanem 4109

ASSIF TSAHAR & THE NEW YORK UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA
Fragments
Hopscotch Records HOP27

Utilizing instrumentation more commonly associated with notated chamber music than improvisation, these Boston and New York-based ensembles become individually crafted vehicles upon which the leaders/conductors express themselves.

Although both the 10-piece Conduction Ensemble from Boston and the 19-piece New York Underground Orchestra are top-heavy with string players, the resulting performances bear very little resemblance to one another. Japanese-born, Boston-based Masashi Harada’s version of conduction promulgates a collective creation where each minute gesture or sound is consolidated into a dense whole. He calls his creations music of body. ENTERPRISING MASS OF CILIA’s nearly 66½ minutes may be divided into nine tracks, but the impression is that of a single, dense creation. MORE

June 20, 2005

COOPER-MOORE & ASSIF TSAHAR

Tells Untold
Hopscotch Records HOP30

KAHIL EL’ZABAR & DAVID MURRAY
We Is
Delmark DE-557

Reeds and miscellaneous instruments, especially percussion, figure in these improv/roots duo sessions. Multi-percussionist Kahil El’Zabar from Chicago is as expert in relating African rhythmic variations to jazz as New York multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore is in adapting temporal Black timbres to improvisations.

Complementing each man’s beat sophistication is, in El’Zabar’s case the tenor saxophone and bass clarinet of Paris resident David Murray, while Cooper-Moore’s partner is Israeli-born Assif Tsahar, whose proficiency on Murray’s chosen instruments extends to additional skills playing muzmar or Arabic oboe, acoustic guitar and thumb piano. Here El’Zabar also offers variations on the batà and thumb piano as well as the regular traps set, while on TELLS UNTOLD, Moore mixes virtuosity on ethnic instruments like the harp, shofar, deedly-bo and mouth-bow with outings on flute, synthesizer and others. MORE

May 17, 2004

ASSIF TSAHAR/MAT MANERI/JIM BLACK

JAM
Hopscotch 21

CRAIG TABORN
Junk Magic
Thirsty Ear THI 57144.2

Ever since he first appeared on disc as part of his father, reedist Joe Maneri’s, Boston-based microtonal trio, violist Matt Maneri has been turning heads with his playing. Versatile enough to move effortlessly from the harshest excesses of loud, so-called ecstatic jazz to the supplest examples of understated chamber improv, he’s created a legitimate role for the bloated fiddle in exploratory situations. MORE

March 15, 2004

COOPER-MOORE/ASSIF TSAHAR

America
Hopscotch 18

Avatarof invented-from-necessity instruments, Cooper-Moore is able to put all of his talents to good use on this 10-track CD.

Those who only know him as a risk-taking pianist in bands like In Order To Survive will discover the down-home side of his personality as he improvises on traditional Southern instruments like the one-string diddley-bo, mouth bow and banjo. Those -- usually in New York -- who have seen him use these skiffle band ingredients in folkloric settings will marvel at his skills at piano, drums-skins and cymbal, as well as a vocalist. MORE

November 10, 2003

ASSIF TSAHAR/PETER KOWALD/SUNNY MURRAY

MA: Live at the Fundacio Juan Miro
Hopscotch 15

MARIO SCHIANO/XU FENGXIA/MARTIN BLUME
Dear Peter…
Improjazz PRGT 001

German bassist Peter Kowald’s peripatetic life and willingness to improvise with musicians of all stripes and nationalities immensely widened the circle of musicians who mourned his sudden death from a heart attack at 58, in September 2002.

His enthusiasm for musical collaboration, which seemed to augment in the year or so before his death -- a characteristic he shared with other first generation European improvisers such as Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker and Derek Bailey -- has meant that a raft of recent CDs have celebrated the bassist’s skills. Although not one is the definite last session, MA is one of the more impressive efforts. MORE

June 23, 2003

ASSIF TSAHAR

Ayn Le-any
Hopscotch 7

JORRIT DIJKSTRA
30 micro-stems
Trytone TT559-014

MARK WHITECAGE & HIS VIRTUAL COMBO
Ducks on Acid
Acoustics ELE 415 CD

Adding electronics to acoustic instruments has clearly redefined the idea of solo-improvised performances. Loops, delays, processing and the like mean that, for example, an inventive woodwind player can now create as singularly as he wants or exhibit all the applications and more that you would expect from an entire reed combo. MORE

May 5, 2003

ASSIF TSHAR and the ZOANTHROPIC ORCHESTRA

Embracing the Void
Hopscotch 9

ASSIF TSHAR and the NEW YORK UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA
The Labyrinth
Hopscotch 12

Different as free jazz and New music, on show here are two distinct manifestations of the composing and arranging skills for larger groups by tenor saxophonist Assif Tsahar. Both are engrossing, remarkably mature, compositional works for someone best known for his impassioned blowing with the likes of bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake.

EMBRACING THE VOID has a slight edge however. That’s because all 14 members of the Zoanthropic Orchestra appear better able to personalize the emotional cauldron of Tsahar avant jazz pieces than the 19 musicians of the New York Underground Orchestra can contour THE LABYTINTH into a more original form. MORE

March 1, 2002

ASSIF TSAHAR/HAMID DRAKE

Soul Bodies, Vol. 1
Ayler aylCD-0024

ASSIF TSAHAR/HAMID DRAKE/PETER KOWALD/HUGH RAGIN
Open Systems
Marge 28

Stripped down to music’s internal skeleton, real-time improvisation is so basic that it can often be as chancy as trying to reconstruct a human being from his bone structure alone. But when it does work, the results are as spectacular as the accomplishments of anthropologists who use the properties of a few bone shards to discover nearly everything about a vanished personage.

Master drummer Hamid Drake and reedman Assif Tsahar pull out their symbolic pick axes and labor in the improv trenches at 2001’s Vision Festival in New York on SOUL BODIES. During the course of three long pieces they firmly and distinctively bring into being living, breathing bodies of outstanding improvisations. If they miscalculate in any way, it’s in not spending enough time solidifying the souls to enlighten these improv creatures. MORE

March 1, 2001

ASSIF TSAHAR/HAMID DRAKE

Soul Bodies, Vol. 1
Ayler aylCD-0024

ASSIF TSAHAR/HAMID DRAKE/PETER KOWALD/HUGH RAGIN
Open Systems
Marge 28

Stripped down to music’s internal skeleton, real-time improvisation is so basic that it can often be as chancy as trying to reconstruct a human being from his bone structure alone. But when it does work, the results are as spectacular as the accomplishments of anthropologists who use the properties of a few bone shards to discover nearly everything about a vanished personage.

Master drummer Hamid Drake and reedman Assif Tsahar pull out their symbolic pick axes and labor in the improv trenches at 2001’s Vision Festival in New York on SOUL BODIES. During the course of three long pieces they firmly and distinctively bring into being living, breathing bodies of outstanding improvisations. If they miscalculate in any way, it’s in not spending enough time solidifying the souls to enlighten these improv creatures. MORE