This is a very rewarding recording. It's full of warmth, swing, and a personal approach to solo alto sax. It should also serve to remind the listener, and jazz fan, that here is another great musician with a unique approach that's not a household name, but still deserves world class attention via concerts, gigs, and the national press. I have heard of Richard through his ads in trade papers selling his recording, but, till I put this disc on my CD player, I had no idea what I was in store for.
His solos (to start at the grit!) are models of melodic improvisation. They are like well-constructed short stories. The longest effort being only five minutes and thirty seconds. Some cuts are only seventeen seconds (Visage) or even thirteen seconds (Answer). But it's the content that he plays with that makes so much sense that he never bores the listener. For instance, his ideas on Leap of Joy flow together like tributaries producing a fresh stream unhurrying to its destination.
The bits he gets into parts of his solos gives the prover amount of tension needed. His wit and sense of space adds leavening throughout. His open warm tone is particularly inviting when he dips down into his alto's lower register. On Blues the poignancy in Richard's playing rises to the surface in the opening chorus, during which he implies a beautiful quote from Parker's Mood. I really understand his roots and respect for tradition saxophonistically speaking, i.e., Bird, Lee Konitz, and Lester Young. Although I detect in his phrasing and articulations he's dug a lot of trumpet players and pianists also.
Again, listening to this well-constructed disc, I wonder why Richard Tabnik isn't more well-known? He's certainly ready to play with anyone and his conception is a vivid as it is unique. He's a saxophonist of unquestionable ability.
I like his lack of relaxation on How Lovely You Are. His attack and time are relentless -- the overall results are staggering. He uses space to his advantage and he has establised an incredible rapport with it, while digging in every inch of the way. Check the title track and you'll see what I'm getting at!
In a solo effort, a strong virtue has to also be the portion of cloor produced with this stark setting, including the shapes of tones and bouant upper register flashes. All these are consistent on sixty-one minues of bare solo alto presented here. Tabnik is a voice that has a good conintuity of ideas; his execution of the muisc is bold and venturesome.
This release impressed me a lot. It's first rate music. The workmanship, inspiation and commetment to the art ared all good reasons to own it and enhoy it yourslef. Isure did! [--Tim Price, SAXOPHONE JOURNAL, Nov./Dec. 1993, p. 75]
If there's one element that unites those musicians who draw their inspiration from the teachings of Lennie Tristano, it is a belief in poeticism of the melodic line. The much maligned "coolness" of this music comes because the musicians largely eschew rabble-rousing rhetoric, those fragments of received lickery meant to stir a collective response from the crowd, and delivered at the expense of personal expression. Musicians such as Tabnik seek to develop melodies that express their inner inner voices. On Solo Journey Tabnik takes this to the extreme. He strips away the rhythm section, any familiar tunes, (though, as you would expect, references to "All the Things You Are", "Melancholy, Baby", and the like pop up), and even variety in tempos and dynamics. Running more than an hour, this is as rigorous an outing for the listener as for the player. Still it rewards the attention necessary to begin to appreciate -- and after a number of listenings I feel that"s about where I am with it - the subtle turnings of Tabnik"s melodies. The brief, pared sections -- "Question" and "Answer" or "Height" and "Depth" - where you can hear the phrases play off each other, are the easiest ways in. Some bit of variety is provided by the two tributes - a rendering of Lester Young's clarinet solo on "Countless Blues" and an evocation of Charlie Parker's "Parker's Mood" on "Blues". In both cases the degree to which Tabnik captures the emotional tenor of his models' work, while still giving expression to himself, is striking. This is not easy listening, and is best experienced [in] small doses (say, the length of an LP side), but it's well worth the attention. [--David Dupont, CADENCE Magazine, February 1993]
If solo performance is the ultimate challenge, Tabnik appears to welcome it. Except for a few quotes and flashbacks to Lester Young and Charlie Parker on Countless Blues and Parker*s Mood, this is pure Tabnik in material and improvisational style. There are some links to the Lennie Tristano approach to re-ordering the chordal foundations of standards, but after the briefest of identifying reference points, Tabnik devotes himself to fresh pursuits.
If there is anything a listener might regret in this performance, it is the fact that several of Tabnik*s statements are little more than fragments of passing feelings and images. One wishes for these segments to be explored more fully. Tabnik has the potential and creativity to develop his material, so more of his recordings will be welcome. [--Lois Moody, Marge Hofacre*s JAZZ NEWS, Sept./Oct. 1994]
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