Tarbaby | Oliver Lake | Marc Ducret | Fanon | RogueArt Jazz

rogueart jazz

Orrin Evans: piano | Eric Revis: double bass | Nasheet Waits: drums | special guests – Oliver Lake: alto saxophone | Marc Ducret: guitar

Recorded on September 2011 by Katsuhiko Naito at Brooklyn Recording Studio and Systems Two Studio, New York, USA. Mixing and mastering: Katsuhiko Naito at Avatar Studios. Liner notes: Alexandre Pierrepont.. Photograph: Emrâ Islek. Cover design: Max Schoendorff. Cover realisation: David Bourguignon, URDLA. Producer: TarBaby. Executive producer: Michel Dorbon

Tracklist: 1. Small Pieces… Tiny Pieces (1:31) 2. Black Skin White Mask (5:34) 3. Fanon (7:44) 4. Between Nothingness and Infinity (7:25) 5. The Re-Created Man (0:58) 6. Is it Real (6:49) 7. O My Body (4:28) 8. Liberation Blues (5:56) 9. FLN Stomp (2:01) 10. … Shall we not Revenge? (6:33) 11. One Destiny (3:22)

“Small Pieces …Tiny Pieces”: words quoted from “A Dying Colonialism” by Frantz Fanon. Spoken words by Jason Fifefield, small child voice by Xiamora Revis

Tarbaby | Oliver Lake | Marc Ducret | Fanon | rogueart jazz

Eric Revis, Nahseet Waits, Oliver Lake, Orrin Evans, Marc Ducret

Violently, this album begins violently

it’s unavoidable, even though the music itself can never be as violent as the subject matter it evokes, it creates the similar effect Frantz Fanon aimed at in “The Wretched of the Earth”…

…Introducing pianist Orrin Evans is recalling he studied with Kenny Barron, amongst others, before playing with an array of talents from Bobby Watson to Mos Def. Introducing bass player Eric Revis is recalling he studied with Ellis Marsalis, amongst others, before playing with an array of talents from Branford Marsalis to Ken Vandermark. Introducing drummer Nasheet Waits is driving the rhythm compass wild. It is remembering the son of drummer great Freddy Waits (who played with Bill Dixon and Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder and Pharaoh Sanders), sponsored at a very young age by Max Roach and Ed Blackwell, acquired power by playing with indomitable leading figures: Andrew Hill, Jason Moran, William Parker, Tony Malaby, Peter Brötzmann… A trio capable of a metamorphic energy, developing itself into a myriad of shimmering shapes, this time with guitarist Marc Ducret, the raging master of brightening and darkening, and with saxophone player Oliver Lake, with his misconduct and turndowns, both embodying/summoning the other, the alteration, as it were with Fanon. Tarbaby and its guests of honor offer a music which is constantly born, it breaks free of its chains, it exacerbates and alters itself, it gives analogical value to the necessary but unclassifiable distinctions, to impressionism and expressionism, to thinking and acting, to order and disorder, it is the music of another possible world, it redistributes wealth as it produces it.… Alexandre Pierrepont, excerpt from the liner notes

Tarbaby | Oliver Lake | Marc Ducret | Fanon | rogueart jazz

Orrin Evans, Eric Revis, Oliver Lake, Nasheet Waits, Marc Ducret

Volcano, Boomerang, Volcano (how to be one again when you have been possessed)

Violently, this album begins violently, it’s unavoidable, even though the music itself can never be as vio-lent as the subject matter it evokes, it creates the similar effect Frantz Fanon aimed at in “The Wretched of the Earth”: “In regards to individuals, violence is like detox. It frees the colonized from his inferiority complex, from his contemplative or desperate attitude. It makes him bold and reha-bilitates him in his own eyes.” Violence to escape numbness, violence to break the spell of what W.E.B. Du Bois called “an almost morbid sense of one’s own identity”, violence of any liberation.

Let’s talk music, since this album begins with a few words that resonate for a long while, but barely never calls on words again, although it is entirely dedicated to a man of words (and action). In Nasheet Waits’ own words: “It was our decision to use the inspiration of Fanon in a more indirect sense. His words and spirit were present throughout the entirety of this project. The use of specific text in projects like these that are “tributes” can be “overdone”. It can become almost contrived. To use the text formula would be the obvious approach. TARBABY is all about making the obscure palatable. We realized that particular quote is very strong, but we felt that it was necessary to jolt the listener. If you understand the entire context of the quote you realize that. There are a bundle of esoteric references in our world, and in particular our art. We went the opposite direction, with an in your face reference. Colonialism, racism, sexism, and imperialism are all horrific in their own right.” Orrin Evans, Eric Revis, and Nasheet Waits have thus decided to dive in head first, by rehearsing and exploring in the studio since 2006, on stage and on Earth under this stage name: Tarbaby, since 2009. This expression, this “tar baby”, this taunting Toni Morrison used as the title of one of her novels, was (is?) used to stigmatize, in North America, “black” children, their skin and minds darkened at birth through a so-called tar baptism… What could be more natural / cultural for a trio using such a slanderous denominator, even if reassessed in this context (they themselves are not this tarbaby, they explain, but rather it is “jazz” itself, this naked music moving forward under a mask and to which they devote all their tenderness), than to call on Fanon, the author of “Black Skin, White Masks”, who described skin color as a coloring agent pasted upon people’s backs and consciousness: “Dirty niggar!” or simply: “look, a niggar !” I entered the world with hopes of giving meaning to things, my soul full of desire to be at the origin of the world, and instead I became an object amongst other objects. (…) What else could I see myself as, than a detachment, a wrenching, an hemorrhage clotting black blood all over my body? However, I refused this reconsideration, this topicalization. All I wanted was to be a man amongst men. I would have liked to enter our world smooth and young and build together.”

Fortunately, Frantz Fanon didn’t take on the role carved out for him. Born in Martinique, a philoso-pher and eventually a resistance fighter with the Forces Francaises Libres (FFI) during World War II, a psychiatrist and eventually a resistance fighter with the Front de Lib6ration Nationale (FLN) during Algeria’s war of independence, a source of inspiration for the Black Panthers of the 60s and the post-co-lonial studies at the beginning of the 21st century, Fanon not only refused to follow the social order, but also divulged the reasons why it should not be trusted, from its blissful distortions to its spectacular salivations. His analysis, his dissection of the side effects of colonization and decolonization and their pathologies, are fundamental to understanding our poorly mixed societies. In brief: an all-too assertive civilization, centered on the ruler and the compass, dated historically but pretending to be eternal, situated geographically but pretending to be universal, built itself by bestowing an antagonistic value to the distinctions it created between things, between phenomena, between principles, in accordance with the Aristotelian philosophy of reciprocal exclusion. By establishing fixed identities, it rendered differences a source of division and contradiction, binary opposites to be placed in a hierarchical system (they are many and seminal, anchored upon those of “good” and “evil”: mind and body, the rational and the irrational, culture and nature, civilization and savagery, black and white). It established the rule of dissociation and appropriation. At a later stage, when these precepts and their economic translation were sufficiently assimilated by all, this all too assertive civilization conceded to consider the right of all to recreate for themselves the same system of antinomies. The ethnologist Robert Jaulin, in “The Universe of Totalitarianisms”, highlighted this “entirely perverse relation [which] renders the possessed ob-ject a subjugated subject, which then turns to a possessing, envious or subjugating subject.” For in the midst of this grotesque society filled with secretly torn individuals, anything that was imbued with negative moral, social, and cultural values was driven back, and projected upon others, “its own others”, those who have no choice but to internalize the characters and characteristics already attributed to them. In order to break free from this perverse relationship or spell, Fanon suggested to the possessed objects to break free from their chains, to swell up inside the bodies and minds that were loaned to them until they implode, to exacerbate and transform all the equivalences and identifications that had transformed them. Even better, he suggested they not only react, but also reconquer an imaginative universe which in turn would provide different values, analogical values, to the necessary but unclassifiable distinctions in the space between both worlds, the land of free men. And for us all, he suggested to go beyond this civilization by rethinking these differences without opposing or synthesizing them at the whim of a com-placent egalitarianism.

Let’s discuss politics, of a world to be built together reflecting the music that intervened throughout this history, a music which ceaselessly refused to follow the order it is regularly shoved towards. “Orrin, Eric, and myself were raised in households where there was a high level of social consciousness. Our parents and mentors were very active in using art as a platform to illuminate the injustices in our world.” Introducing pianist Orrin Evans is recalling he studied with Kenny Barron, amongst others, before playing with an array of talents from Bobby Watson to Mos Def. Introducing bass player Eric Revis is recalling he studied with Ellis Marsalis, amongst others, before playing with an array of talents from Branford Marsalis to Ken Vandermark. Introducing drummer Nasheet Waits is driving the rhythm compass wild. It is remembering the son of drummer great Freddy Waits (who played with Bill Dixon and Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder and Pharaoh Sanders), himself a polymorphic drummer, spon-sored at a very young age by friends of the family such as Max Roach and Ed Blackwell, acquired power by playing with indomitable leading figures: Andrew Hill, Jason Moran, William Parker, Tony Malaby, Peter Brotzmann… All of these names together, these indicators, these door and mind-openers, point to a history filled with real-life presences and ceaseless transmission, point to a lineage, the true web of a musical and human culture, the homes of music, point to the position and pivots of a trio which does not oppose “tradition” to “experimentation” or the “known” to the “unknown” (if “jazz”, this tarbaby, is still a purveyor of the incredible). A trio capable of a metamorphic energy, developing itself into a myriad of shimmering shapes, this time with guitarist Marc Ducret, the raging master of brightening and darkening, and with saxophone player Oliver Lake, with his misconduct and turndowns, both embodying/summon-ing the other, the alteration, as it were with Fanon. Tarbaby and its guests of honor offer a music which is constantly born, it breaks free of its chains, it exacerbates and alters itself, it gives analogical value to the necessary but unclassifiable distinctions, to impressionism and expressionism, to thinking and acting, to order and disorder, it is the music of another possible world, it redistributes wealth as it produces it. — Alexandre Pierrepont (translation Romain Tesler)

 

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One thought on “Tarbaby | Oliver Lake | Marc Ducret | Fanon | RogueArt Jazz

  1. For their fourth album, the collective trio Tarbaby maintain their simultaneously tradition orientated but forward looking aesthetic. At the heart remains the piano of Orrin Evans, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Nasheet Waits. But from the start they have been open to change. As a consequence only one of their releases features the three principals alone. And Fanon continues that pattern with the inclusion of special guests saxophonist Oliver Lake, (who has a history of collaboration with the band) and guitarist Marc Ducret for an absorbing 11 track studio program recorded in September 2011.

    Tarbaby received a French American Cultural Exchange grant from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation for the project inspired by the writings of Frantz Fanon, a Martinique-born Afro-French psychiatrist, philosopher, and revolutionary. However after the opening “Small Pieces, Tiny Pieces” in which a child narrates a story of horror and brutalization from Fanon’s A Dying Colonialism (1961), the dedicatee’s influence is more apparent through the song titles than their content. Certainly graphic extremes of the anger and violence do not feature prominently in the swinging charts, which stem from across the band.

    Even “The Re-Created Man” and “FLN Stomp” -the pair of brief duo inventions by the two guests -showcase mercurial interplay rather than the extended freeform mayhem of which they are capable. Elsewhere three cuts serve to highlight the talents of the core threesome. Waits, one of the most tuneful of drummers, in a lineage stretching back to Max Roach via Ed Blackwell, introduces “Between Nothingness and Infinity” by a sequence of rolls circulated around his kit before settling on an ostinato. Then later Evans’ flowing boppish lines vie for attention with the bassist’s melodic contrapuntal asides. By contrast, the airily sketched “O My Body” appears spontaneous, with Evans going under the bonnet for atmospheric effect and Revis’ bass foregrounded.

    On the remainder of the album the full quintet navigates the thoughtful arrangements. “Black Skin White Mask” proves an edgy intro to the band, swinging with an Ornette Coleman vibe, before an exciting change of gear to finish. Lake brings his familiar acerbic tone and squealing runs to the project, adding spice with his vocalized saxophone cries, while Ducret’s slashing guitar and floating sustain heighten the inherent drama. Evans’ “Liberation” Blues revels in a in an intricate unison, while Ducret’s …”Shall we not Revenge?” builds from knotty interaction to a throbbing finale. Over Evans’ bluesy underpinnings on the concluding “One Destiny,” the trio’s increasingly dominant voices finally renew the link to Fanon by repeating the “Small Pieces, Tiny Pieces” refrain to the fade out.

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