August 6, 2015
By Ken Waxman
Finally going it alone on saxophone after recording as part of groups like Radio I-Ching over the past few years, veteran saxophonist Any Haas creates exotically unfamiliar but thoroughly 21st century sounds on his first solo CD. Haas, who in the past has improvised using such unusual horns as hojak, shofar, morsing and piri manages to simulate some of those sounds through the judicious use of electronics with his saxophone. But like Muslimgauze, one of the two artists to whom Taballah is dedicated –Allen Ginsberg is the other – these reed textures are underscored by chunky, dissected ambient-styled judders, created by a taal tarang or compact electronic tabla.
Like an anthropologist visiting aboriginals to introduce new concepts, Haas’ variant of atmospheric exotica owes more to downtown Manhattan than downtown Mumbai. Adept at sonic mash-ups, Hass has Carnatic emphasis vie with techno trance suggestions. Overall his blurry processing suggests windshield wiper-like rhythms, steel drum-like resonance, radio static and plinks that could come from a fretless guitar as frequently as those textures could be attributed to extended reed techniques.
A piece such as “Lapsed Dance” for instance posits what would happen in a laboratory experiment if the sounds of Prime Time and a Klezmer wedding band were sutured together as electronic timbres leak in from an adjoining workshop. Meanwhile “Taballah” daubs a sweet Johnny Hodges-styled saxophone solo atop blurry analog-electronics style wiggles. “The Rush to Buy Heaven” imagines Herbie Hancock’s beat-wedded “Rockit” group fronted by chopped and crying irregular saxophone vibrations.
“Every Word a Mask”, the longest track, may be the session’s Rosetta stone. Musically and via its title, the tune postulates that sounds like words veil many meanings. One doesn’t have to understand the tonal logic of how, on this piece for instance, comb-and-tissue paper-like blats, organ-like pedal point textures and rocket-launching whooshes fit together so comfortably, yet you can appreciate the unique end product.
Tracks: The Race of Dreams; Taballah; The Rush to Buy Heaven; Upon Their Golden Asses; Every Word A Mask; Lapsed Dance; Our Drunken Universe
Personnel: Andy Haas: alto saxophone, taal tarang, electronics
—For The New York City Jazz Record August 2015