The 'Soundscapes' of the Lew Tabackin Trio Are Self-Evident on New Self-Released CD [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Feb 16, 2016 05:43 AM EST

How marvelous it is to finally hear Lew Tabackin playing flute and tenor sax in a trio format. For years, the 75-year-old master blew in the bands of talk-show hosts Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson. In 1973, he formed the Toshiko Akiyoshi /Lew Tabackin Big Band with his wife whom he met in Japan in 1967 when playing in Clark Terry's band. Now, with bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Mark Taylor, his self-released co-produced Soundscapes has him in intimate surroundings where you feel every last wiggle of his oh-so-pure tones.

Starting with the 1955 John (Modern Jazz Quartet) Lewis composition "Afternoon In Paris," seven of the eight tracks were recorded live at Steve Maxwell's Drum Shop in New York City with only Jerome Kern's 1933 "Yesterdays" recorded in Tabackin's basement studio.

Lew's flute is influenced by Jean-Pierre Rampal [1922-2000] who was largely credited for returning the flute within classical music as a lead instrument to the kind of popularity it had not enjoyed since the 1800s. (Lew was a student in Rampal's classes.) His flute flutter wavers mightily like a cross between Herbie Mann, Ian Anderson and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, yet it can come clean with quick brisk lines of declaration. In a way, it reminds of Jeremy Steig, the ex-pat who's lived in Japan for years now and provided some hot flute action on a few Johnny Winter records back in the day.

Three of eight are originals: "B-Flat, Where It's At," "Garden at Life Time" and "Minoru" add up to a Japan trilogy of sorts, in remembrance of people and places of the Far East. "Minoru," for a dear friend who fixed saxophones, has the trio engaging in gagaku, a Japanese term for free improvisation. It's all very entertaining, sophisticated, perfectly trebly (as co-produced by Mix/Master Dave Darlington) and, ultimately, unequivocally satisfying.

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TagsLew Tabackin, REVIEW, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Dick Cavett, Johnny Carson