Lew Tabackin, whose extroverted tone on tenor (influenced most by Don Byas and Ben Webster) contrasts with the Eastern sound that he gets on flute, is teamed quite successfully with pianist Benny Green, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash on this Concord CD. The repertoire, mostly lesser-known standards like John Coltrane's "Wise One" and Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud," is well-treated by these masterful musicians.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
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Lew Tabackin is a personification of jazz as a world language. He has performed - with orchestras and with his own groups - throughout Europe and the Far East. Not just once or twice but so frequently that he doesn't have to have his horn in his hand to be recognized.
He communicates so powerfully - whatever the language of the country - because he plays with compelling authority. On deeply grooving up-tempo numbers or on ballads, his is not only a deeply persona! voice but also a way of speaking on the tenor and the flute that commands attention. Or, as Louis Armstrong might have said, Lew plays "with plenty of punch."
He is also memorably lyrical - playing on intimate songs and even on intense swingers with a keen sense of dynamics and a mosaic-like flow of colors. Lew brings new dimensions to the works, as in this set, of Coltrane, Monk, Ellington, Charlie Parker and one of the most original of jazz composers, his wife, Toshiko Akiyoshi.
As a tenor player, if there were still jam sessions around, he would still be standing when it was all over. As for Lew on flute, this is an instrument that has been difficult - except for a few players like James Newton - to make into an authoritative jazz voice. But Tabackin not only brings a large, vibrant sound to the flute but he does it without distorting the essence of the flute, its grace and sylvan quality.
For this session, Lew wanted to be challenged by several of the newer spirits of jazz. Benny Green is already established not as a promising pianist but as one who has arrived. Green has worked with Betty Carter whose every set is a master class in mastering time rather than having time mastering you. Also to be learned from Betty Carter are new meanings of the vintage definition of jazz as "the sound of surprise."
Peter Washington is a ubiquitous bassist on jazz dates because, as he is evident here, he listens, and so he unerringly and crisply energizes the soloists. He's been with many groups, including another master teacher. Art Blakey.
Drummer Lewis Nash is another alumnus of the Betty Carter School of Highly Advanced Improvisation and indeed was with her at the same time as Benny Green. An indication of the respect with which he is held on the jazz scene is his having also worked with Tommy Flanagan and Ron Carter.
There are fewer and fewer generational barriers in jazz. The younger players know and care more about their roots than has ever been the case before. And those who have helped develop those roots dig the younger musicians and when they work together - as in this set - the future of jazz is strengthened.
- Nat Hentoff