Susie Ibarra / Assif Tsahar

Home Cookin'

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AllMusic Review by

The first issue on the home label of Susie Ibarra and her husband, reed/woodwind boss Assif Tashar, two of downtown NY's finest, and most in demand, players. The set was recorded in three hours and features the pair playing everything from their standard instruments, like a trap kit and a tenor saxophone, to African thumb piano, tympani and bells, bass clarinets, violins, etc. the set opens with "Arrival/Salutations" for tenor and drums. It's along the lines of the Coltrane/Ali Interstellar Space recordings, but much more subtle, as Tashar is a true lyricist and Ibarra is much more interested in the subtleties of speed rather than in its more obvious function as power. From here the pair move into "Dream Song #1" (there are eight of them, and one has to wonder if they were named for the poems by John Berryman). The exploration of space and texture and the tonal interaction between the violin and the thump piano provide a fascinating backdrop of textural mode and timbre. On "Dream Song #2," Ibarra employs the balafon against Tashar's talking drum; they meet each other head on and find a turning point to offer one another a few moments of individual expression before the onslaught of the sax/drum duet of "Liquid Time" puts everything that has come up so far into perspective. The phrases are long, the cadences fall down about the pair's ears as the improvisations sings with a multivalent form of tonal experientialism. Finally, as the record goes on, and as the "Dream Songs" intersect with the freer improvisation a tapestry gets woven between the two players, to be sure, but also around the listener, who is allowed full entrance into this world, with no knowledge necessary of technique, breath, spatial dynamics, or intervallic architecture, only the desire to hear. Perhaps these notions are best articulated in "Prayer for the Unseen" and "The Wordless Song," where the welcoming spirit of openness and vulnerability that comes from recording an album in three hours. On these two pieces, Tashar is literally singing across space to Ibarra's kit, which, in turn, bounds back his words to him, meaning added to with something from her own heart -- that is the crux of technique for both of these musicians, and perhaps that's why they're so awesome -- and staggers the beat in order to enfold his horn before they both soar off into the heart of song itself. Home Cookin' is a remarkable and auspicious debut for their label.

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