Monday, August 2, 2010
Review: Alatuka's Tamam Abi
As with most acts of artistic consequence, the live performances and the recorded work of Kansas City's Alaturka offer two entirely different experiences.
I happen to wholeheartedly agree with The Star's assessment of the Turkish jazz quartet's July 25 appearance at Jardine's. Sait Arat's darbuka and Jeff Harshbarger's bass became almost tangibly physical presences in the small room. The night's biggest revelation was the playing of Rich Wheeler. He's received little attention at Plastic Sax, but I now realize that he's one Kansas City's premier saxophonists.
While Wheeler's saxophone dominated the sound field at Jardine's, it's Beau Bledsoe's guitar that shines brightest on Tamam Abi, the band's debut recording. His remarkably light-fingered playing sets the tone. Tamam Abi is a tasteful but never benumbing document.
I was alone the first couple times I played the album. I couldn't imagine any broadminded listener not enjoying the immaculate recording. I was later disabused of that notion. Although it contains a wide variety of moods and melodic hooks, Tamam Abi is capable of repelling conservative advocates of mainstream jazz. Conversely, I've found one listener without any allegiance to jazz who adores it.
Alaturka fits in well with the musical space I already inhabit. New recordings of the Ethiopian jazz of Mulatu Astatke and the Afrobeat of Kansas City's Hearts of Darkness are two of my top picks of 2010. Tamam Abi will almost certainly claim another spot on my year-end top ten list.
Additional insights may be gleaned from my Plastic Sax interview with Bledsoe and this performance footage. Alaturka's next performance is August 19 at Crosstown Station.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)