Ahmed Abdullah / Ahmed Abdullah's Ebonic Tones

Tara's Song

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With the lineup of musicians on this release from the Finnish Tum label, one would expect the music to be an avant-garde blowout, but the results are something quite a bit different. There are fiery stretches of free improvisation, but there are also happily ragged versions of Gigi Gryce's "Sans Souci" and Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk," a passionate and surprisingly cooking rendition of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," and singing by trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah on a pair of likable if moderately silly Sun Ra tunes. Of Abdullah's original pieces, "The Cave" has plenty of fire while "Tara's Song" is a bit touching. While the ensembles are not always perfectly in tune, they are quite listenable and there are plenty of unpredictable solos along the way from Abdullah, baritonist Alex Harding, and violinist Billy Bang, with bassist Alex Blake and drummer Andrei Storbert providing stimulating support. This is a surprising date, one that rewards repeated listenings.

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