Lew Tabackin prefers to work without a pianist on his own record dates (no offense to his wife, the brilliant pianist/composer Toshiko Akiyoshi), as that gives him much more harmonic freedom. This 2001 concert in Japan is a rewarding performance, with bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Mark Taylor. The intimate recording results in a very natural sound, as if the listener had a seat close to the stage. Tabackin begins unaccompanied on flute with a long Zen-like introduction to John Coltrane's "Wise One," which also features a superb solo by Kozlov. Tabackin's "Tanuki's Night Out" is a mysterious piece inspired by the story of a mythological badger, with the leader's strange, menacing lines on tenor and inspired drumming by Taylor. Tabackin returns to flute to revisit "Desert Lady," an exotic piece with a Middle Eastern flavor, wrapped with a brilliant unaccompanied finale by the flautist. "Studio F" is a wild improvised feature on tenor sax, while Tabackin's powerful playing in "Body and Soul" and a delightful romp through "Rhythm-A-Ning" close things out with a flourish.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden