Kahil El'Zabar

The Power

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The recording session evidently began on a rough note, as alluded to several times in the liner notes. You could not guess it, though, from the music, which is a fascinating collection of tunes. Featuring El'Zabar on percussion and thumb piano, along with Hamiet Bluiett on flute, bass sax, and contra bass sax and Billy Bang on violin, the trio offers diversity galore considering the seemingly limited instrumentation. The last track features vocal doodling (scatting? jazz yodeling?) like you've never heard, and the others highlight each of the three as improvisers and composers. The very different styles of the three musicians are reflected in their compositions, none of which can be easily categorized. While there are numbers where melody predominates, there are others where Bluiett, in particular, takes it way outside. El'Zabar is a powerful one-man rhythm section, although the band's sound somehow wears thin with a front line of only violin and sax. Still, you cannot help but marvel over the variety of the soloing, the catchy tunes, and the opportunity to hear each of these virtuosi in a unique context.

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