Produced by Richard Tabnik. Cover Photograph: Jacob J. Goldberg. Stone Gig Photographs: Scott Friedlander. CD Design: JB Bryan. Liner Notes: Marc Medwin. Recorded and mixed by Joe Marciano. Mastered by Max Ross at Systems Two: Brooklyn, NY
Tracklist: CD #1 Studio Set | Improvised Tunes 1. Unfasten Your Mindbelt 2. Let’s Go! 3. Streaming 4. Toroid Affair 5. Luminosity Symphony for Jazz Trio: A Prayer for Peace 6. Drum Call 7. The Call for Liberty and Justice for All 8. Homeless 9. What About the Homeless? 10. Prayer 11. A Prayer for Peace 12. Recapitulation: No Alternative to Peace & Justice
Tracklist: CD #2 Live at The Stone, NYC | Improvised Tunes 1. Smile My Baby 2. Linearity Symphony for Jazz Trio: A Prayer for Peace 3. Drum Call 4. The Call for Liberty and Justice for All 5. Homeless 6. What About the Homeless 7. Prayer 8. A Prayer for Peace / Recapitulation: No Alternative to Peace & Justice 9. Duly Noted
All music © 2012 Richard Tabnik
Richard Tabnik Trio | Photo by Scott Friedlander
SYMPHONY FOR JAZZ TRIO
A PRAYER FOR PEACE
“War is a racket.”
USMC Major General Smedley D. Butler (1881-1940)
— the term is loaded with suggestion, from cyclic symmetry to the perfect blending of harmonious sounds, building on tradition and leaving it behind. For seven hundred years, myriad aesthetics and environments have been encapsulated by those three syllables, encompassing practicality, spirituality and all in-between. After a while though, definitions become the tired property of schoolboys. “Yes,” quips Richard Tabnik, ‘Tm glad I’m not in school!”
Richard’s humor offsets an extraordinarily serious philosophy and mu-sicality but his rapid-fire responses mirror the quickjabs and lightning-fast thinking in each line he plays. “Symphony for Jazz Trio: A Prayer for Peace” is presented here in two versions— evolved from a typically whimsical exchange with drummer Roger Mancuso.
“Roger, Adam Lane and I had gotten together for some rehearsals before going into the studio to record. At one of the first, Roger asked me if we were going to do the same old thing in the studio? ‘No,’ I said, ‘We’re going to do my Symphony for Jazz Trio! I had never even considered the possibility of writing such a thing, but my offhanded comment led me to go home and do it.”
What Richard has achieved transcends the narrow traditional confines that emerged from the Italian overture and were transformed by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The greatest music thrives on freedom and reference; Richard’s symphonic conception plays mood, tonality and history as you might hear them in Mahler’s third, sixth and ninth symphonies. The first and third movements, brisk in tempo, share similar thematic material—listen to those arching melodies glide in Richard’s gorgeously flexible tone!—and of course, the middle movement is slow, a wistful ballad.
All that is academic, but Richard’s malleable structure is built on the freedoms he inherited from decades of performing and teaching experience. Adam and Roger follow his lead, contributing solos that are studies in invention and discipline. Just compare the two manifestations of Roger’s opening solo. In the studio, cymbals constitute only a portion of his widely varied sonic pallet. At The Stone, he lets loose a forty-second post-Cagian construction in metal, crystalline lows and highs ringing the room acoustic with ice. Similarly, Adam’s quarter-tone ventures become the spirituality with which his concert statement resounds. A halftone expands, contracts, expands again, his arco as clean and precise as his tone is clear, imbuing the smallest interval with cavernous import. Around and through it all, Richard, blues-haunted, innocently experienced, speaks volumes with each silky tone. I have never heard an alto sound like his, orchestral in itself.
So all-inclusive is Richard’s vision that the symphony transcends its own boundaries. On each disc, we are treated to preludes on standards. They’re microcosms of the larger work to come. The classic lines are insinuated rather than stated, and the band takes off in true dialogue, playing each tune’s implications. “Isn’t that the point,” says Richard drily, and yet, in less capable hands, the standard has become a museum piece, or a parade ground on which pointless virtuosity sports the emperor’s new clothes. As with the symphony proper, we are given cohesive fragments, the infinite possibilities real musical exploration affords, and at the end of it all, a circle! Maybe Mingus had it right after all, calling his groundbreaking tune ‘All the things you could be by now…” because that’s how “Duly Noted,” Richard’s retraversal of ‘All the Things you Are” feels after everything that has transpired, the galaxies explored and so many returns. The entire album is a journey, from near instantaneous conception to two possible outcomes, and it should be experienced that way. —Marc Medwin
Richard Tabnik Trio | Photo by Scott Friedlander
to Roberta Romeo, the genius who keeps my saxophone singing; thank you jushi (June Siegel)for believing in me when so few people did; thank you Sonny Dallas for all the wisdom that you imparted to me; thank you Lee Konitz for being the reason that I play the alto saxophone; thanks to John Zorn for The Stone; thank you Connie Crothers, for inviting me to do that trio gig at The Stone: you will always be my inspiration, teacher, and favorite musician; and above all, Thank You, Prem Rawat, for showing me Beauty beyond everything else. Thank you etc……
Thank you ALL for your inspiration, wisdom, and kindness.
Recorded and mixed by Joe Marciano, and mastered by Max Ross at Systems Two on December 27, 2007 and January 9, 2008, Brooklyn, NY. Thanks to Joe and Nancy Marciano and Max Ross—you are all the greatest! Every inch of that place is done with great expertise and love; every moment there is fun, focused and productive! The gig at The Stone, NYC on September 18, 2009 recorded by Ben Manley, whose kindness is exceeded only by his brilliance as a recording engineer! — Richard Tabnik
Richard Tabnik | Photo by Scott Friedlander
Remember all those art-house B movies
about dope fiends, those grainy black and white 50s soft porn peep show vignettes, that strange underworld of art wherein you took it all in with a hazed grin but wondered “Where the hell are they getting all that cool post-beatnik jazz from in the soundtracks???” ‘Member those? I do, which is probably revealing more about me than I should. One rarely discovered from whom and whence the sounds issued, though, and it was never quite in the Dexter Gordon / Charlie Parker mode, more the Maynard G. Krebs / Lol Coxhill side of things. Writer Marc Medwin quite rightly attributes many modalities to Richard Tabnik, his trio, and their A Prayer for Peace—Cagian and way-post-Mozartian included—and I have no quibble with any of it; still, this is beatnik jazz, bubba, and thank the stars for that ’cause it’s a disappearing medium.
Medwin also notes, in his 4-page liner essay, that Prayer arose from a conversation between saxist Tabnik and drummer Roger Mancuso. I say that conversation extended deeply into the music and became more than a set of internal interchanges. Musical conversations occur in three levels: with oneself, between fellow players, and outward to the audience. Most groups play a set with themselves, work for the audience or disport among themselves in improv, but Tabnik and Trio are one of those rare units conversing to the audience. There’s a difference, and you can as much feel as hear it in this double disc uniquely presenting the studio version of the centerpiece, Symphony for Jazz Trio: A Prayer for Peace, and then a live version on the second disc. The triumvirate’s sound not only creates itself but also projects preternaturally without any need for over-amplification or histrionics, resulting in palpable 3-D tactility. That’s what caught my attention right off the bat; that’s the unique hook.
Peace unfolds itself like a novel: intro, exposition, then an involved weaving meditation culminating in denouement, reflection, and recap/coda. Especially during the 12:17 What About the Homeless?, Tabnik’s mind and heart are laid open in a melancholic dirge fretting over brother and sister humans caught in the merciless jaws of the carcinogenic virus we call ‘capitalism’, and Richard doesn’t just appraise the unfortunates, he gets down in the gutter with them, sleeps the cold nights, wonders about his next meal. It’s all right there in his horn, a sad mistral lark lamenting man’s inhumanity to man. Mancuso and bassist Adam Lane quietly tread the path just steps behind, writing it all down, a tear welling up, Lane’s solo becoming a poem laid beside a fresh grave. Don’t expect Gato Barbieri, Jaco Pastorius, and Billy Cobham, this isn’t a chopsfest but instead an essay, a journal entry covering the silent class war, a reflection in a rain puddle under lowering skies.
Tabnik, you see, has read Smedley Butler’s classic War is a Racket and has followed the hallowed USMC Major General’s observations out to their grim final end: the toll on the homefront to the least among us. When fully half or more of America’s incredible dazzling wealth is given to warmongers and ravening inhuman business monsters, what’s left for us, we from whom the money was taken? The answer is embedded in this CD set, and, speaking of Smedley Butler—not to mention L. Fletcher Prouty, Chris Hedges, Michael Chussadofsy, Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, and a fully loaded double handful of others—I cannot wait for the day the present era’s radio pseuds (the “Left”, the “progressive”, the “liberal” infauxtainers) disappear, which they’re blindly working on even as I write, thank God, along with their chirographic brethren and we have some true and palpable Leftist thinking in this country: an end to religion, capitalism, Republicanism, and the myriad poisons which have malefically clogged mankind’s lifelines for all of history and now threaten to consummate their collective fell intent to a degree that will horrify future generations…if any survive long enough to produce those later cultures. So when you, dear reader/listener, turn on the radio, when you’re watching for the vultures, don’t forget the snakes. — Mark S. Tucker
THERE IS NO VIABLE ALTERNATIVE TO PEACE AND JUSTICE.
Double CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)
MP3 version (161.12MB zip download)