FAB Trio

Transforming the Space

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Here are three veterans justifiably calling themselves "FAB" (Fonda, Altschul, and Bang), engaged unpretentiously in a delightful set of original pieces that spotlight their individual talents and group cohesiveness. Although none of these three needs an introduction, those accustomed only to their earlier output are likely to be impressed with their collective virtuosity and joyous enthusiasm. Billy Bang, in particular, is at the peak of his powers, consistently delivering the sort of horn-emulating improvisations that mark his career. His creamy tone, seemingly effortless technique, and unobtrusive group work are handily displayed. Even on the freely improvised "Coligno Battatta," with its silly opening banter, the violinist engages in earthy gymnastics that grab you by the lapel. Melody is important to the album's success, with nominal leader Joe Fonda's venerable "Song for My Mother" treated definitely. Barry Altschul's feature, "For Papa Jo, Klook, and Philly Too," displays his versatility, emphasizing a delicate though diverse touch in a fitting tribute to a few giants of the drums. The signature natural recording technique employed by the CIMP label works well, as the woody tones of the amplified bass resonate persuasively against the snares and the lovely electronically enhanced violin strings. It all has a certain sense of completeness, as though by the last selection the trio has accomplished its task with an unobtrusive reverence.

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