Kahil El'Zabar: Spirits Entering (2001)
This is truly great example of what a duo is all about. Billy Bang is the preeminent jazz violinist today and El'Zabar is a master percussionist. Together they create incredible moods and, on any and all levels, incredible music.
The two have a long history of performing together and it shows. They interact as if they have ESP. This record is not a violin accompanied by drums but a true duet in which both players are equal. El?Zabar reacts what Bang does, and Bang reacts to what El'Zabar does.
The tempos are varied as are the textures. The whole cd can almost be considered as a 9 part suite, since the feeling of the pieces blend so nicely together. Of the 9 pieces 2 were composed by Bang and the others by El?Zabar. On some tunes El'Zabar plays a regular drum set, on others he plays various hand drums and thumb piano. The interaction the thumb piano and the violin is extraordinary. The sound of the thumb piano resonates beautifully against the timber of the violin. As does El'Zabar's use of the birimbau. El'Zabar shows what a master percussionist can do to enhance a melody. He knows what tonal properties to use and he knows what rhythms to use to enhance a composition.
And listen to El'Zabar Sing That Old Time religion while accompanying himself on hand drums. After repeated listenings to this record I kept discovering more subtleties. And I kept wondering why there aren't more jazz violinists and more great percussionists who think in terms of melody instead of the nonmusical technique-as-an-end-in-itself approach to soloing.
A highly recommended record.
Track Listing: Spirits Entering, 2 Was Now, Sweet Irene, Love Outside Dreams, The Dream Merchant, Song of Myself, The Huri Fantasy, Old Time Religion, Golden Sea.
Personnel: El'Zabar, drums, percussion, finger piano, birimbau. Bang, Violin.