Tuesday, May 22, 2018

CD Review: Dave Liebman/Tatsuya Nakatani/Adam Rudolph - The Unknowable

Dave Liebman/Tatsuya Nakatani/Adam Rudolph
The Unknowable
(RareNoise) www.rarenoiserecords.com

When Dave Liebman's name last appeared on this site, it came with two releases - a tribute to John Coltrane in a quintet with saxophonist Joe Lovano and in a duet with pianist Martial Solal, the latter bringing vitality to standards that have no doubt been played hundreds of times. The Unknowable puts the saxophonist in a completely different setting, bringing the same level of skill and energy: an improvised set of tracks with two percussionists.

Tatsuya Nakatani and Adam Rudolph are not your average percussionists either. Nakatani - who utilizes gongs, metal percussion, standard percussion and, on one track, a trap kit - has played with numerous free jazz improvisers and as a solo artist. Adam Rudolph is an expert hand drummer who leads the electric Moving Pictures octet and Go: Organic Orchestra, which has included upwards of 30 players. Both bring different concepts to the table. Rudolph often plays flowing pulses while Nakatani contributes more atmospheric sounds, sometimes in the form of scraping metal. That can often have the effect of nails on the chalkboard but here it lends a sense of intrigue to the music. With Rudolph also doing live electronic processing and picking up a thumb piano, Fender Rhodes (Liebman does too on one track) and strings that add a groove in a few places, the sounds never stay in one place.

Liebman gets ample opportunity to cut loose and he makes the most of it. With some delay effects on his soprano, he wails with abandon during the title track while one of his co-horts plays what sounds like a gamelan. In addition to blowing free, he constructs a deeply melodic tenor line in "Present Time" while Rudolph attacks his congas and Nakatani scrapes up some industrial clatter behind them. For contrast, this is immediately followed by the tranquil "Distant Twilight." Nothing on The Unknowable exceeds five minutes, guaranteeing that everything lasts as long as the inspiration continues. Even in the wilder pieces, like the percussion-only romp "Transmutations" the forward direction is always clear.

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