Tani Tabbal Quartet

April 3, 2024

Mahakala Music MAHA 055

Limiting himself to a brief introductory solo of hand pats and paradiddles on the penultimate “Old Thoughts New Ways” veteran drummer Tani Tabbal is still omnipresent throughout this leadership disc. Constantly accenting the tracks with cymbal rattles, Tabbal, who has played with Sun Ra, Roscoe Mitchell and many others, compounds bassist Michel Bisio’s study thumps for the disc’s story telling evolution as saxophonists Adam Siegel and Joe McPhee operate in unison or challenge one another with slurs, split tones and staccato squeals.

The addition of tenor saxophonist McPhee to what is a working trio with Bisio, who has enlivened as many international sessions as the tenor saxophonist, and the younger alto saxophonist Adam Siegel, who moves between mainstream and free jazz, gives the group a texturally expanded but tighter playing focus.

With Bisio’s strokes sometimes limited to string tugs or dragged arco emphasis, the tenorist’s double tongued whorls and flutters on a track like “C Hear C” meet the altoist’s squeezed trill until they amalgamate into undulating harmonies. Siegel’s staccato squeals often affix themselves to McPhee’s overblowing and multiple tongue stops as on “Up On You” and are completed as speedier broken octave theme progression is seconded by string plucks and positioned cymbal patterns.

Encompassing altissimo reed screams and thick tongue slurs McPhee’s dramatic recitation of the progressive anti-war, anti-plutocrat and environmentally friendly “A Song For Beginners” as the finale confirms the quartet’s personal concerns and hopes for positive change. Still, the musical sophistication displayed on the rest of the disc also demonstrates those hopes instrumentally.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Phase One 2. Reach Forward 3. Phase Two 4. C Hear C 5. Phase Three 6. Up On You 7. Intentional 8. Up Start 9. Phase Four 10. Old Thoughts New Ways 11. A Song For Beginners

Personnel: Adam Siegel (alto saxophone); Joe McPhee (tenor saxophone and poetry); Michael Bisio (bass) and Tani Tabbal (drums)