Tohpati — Tribal Dance
(Moonjune MJR064, 2014, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2014-07-23I really liked Tohpati's album with Ethnomission from 2010, and when the news came that he would be recording in the US with Jimmy Haslip and Chad Wackerman, I had mixed feeling. While Tohpaiti's guitar playing was a large part of that album's appeal, I really liked the Indonesian flavors imparted by the rest of the band. Would the guitarist still be as interesting in a different setting? Tribal Dance is, in many ways, a much more ordinary recording than Selamatkan Bumi, being pretty much a standard guitar/bass/drums fusion trio. The Indonesian element of the music is reduced to ambient bits that set the mood at the beginnings of several tracks, but these brief moments are key to the album's success. Certainly Tohpati deserves a place among the pantheon of great guitarists, and his compositions are top-notch as well, with a great balance of lyricism and dexterity. Haslip and Wackerman need no introduction as masters of their instruments, and they don't disappoint, infusing Tohpati's compositions with great feel and skill. Tribal Dance was almost all recorded live on a single day, so I'm assuming the keyboard-like sounds heard from time to time are triggered by the guitar, but there's no doubt that this group could show up anywhere and deliver without any help. So, while Tribal Dance may not be the revelation that Selamatkan Bumi was (that kind of lightning only strikes once), it's proof positive of Tohpati's worthiness as a world-class musician. Highly recommended for fans of intelligent jazz-rock that eschews the kind of over-the-top technical virtuosity some bands focus on, opting for a more human, but still impressive, kind of music.
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more