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Time's Tales

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Product details

  • Audio CD (13 Jan. 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: OKeh
  • ASIN: B00G9JIZ08
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,928 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Virgin Forest - Lionel Loueke / Jeff Ballard / Miguel Zenón
2. Western Wren (A Bird Call)
3. Beat Street
4. The Man I Love
5. Free 1
6. Hanging Tree
7. Dal (A Rhythm Song)
8. El Reparador De Suenos
9. Mivakpola
10. Free 3

Product Description

In the Jeff Ballard Trio, wach musician comes from a completely different place: Lionel is from Benin, Miguel from Puerto Rico and Jeff from North America. The band and music come together in the love, respect, and open-mindedness they have for all genres of music across the globe and from all epochs. There are no borders to dictate their sound except their own desires and taste. Each musician brings his own cultural roots to their music, whether it be from the American song book or an Iranian folk melody.

Their sound is defined and proudly flavored with the distinction imparted by each of their countries’ heritage. It is contemporary and relevant within the current times. The repertoire they play includes Thelonius Monk, Iranian folk melodies, Bartok, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and improvised melodies from bird calls. They cover songs from pop artists such as Queens Of The Stone Age and Stevie Wonder, as well as playing their own compositions.

The music is full of complex rhythms, exotic harmonies and soulful melodies. It is rhythmically very precise whilst playing openly and freely, deliberately pushing and breaking down any limits that harmony and rhythm might present resulting in dynamic tensions and suspense.

Time's Tales is the trio's first CD. The overall idea of the recording was to make the sound reflect the character of the band as closely as possible. Everything was recorded with all musicians playing in the same room together and was recorded to 2 inch analogue tape, capturing the organic nature of the group's sound and exciting musical interaction between the players. The repertoire on Time's Tales is as varied and adventurous as the trio's live performances are.

The CD opens with Lionel's Virgin Forest which, with the yells and a laugh at the beginning of the track, exhibits the enthusiasm there is in this ensemble. The song is a funky African groove in 9/4. The second piece is a transcription of a Western Wren bird call. It features Ballard with brushes weaving in and out of the melody at the beginning and a rapid call and response between Loueke and Zenon. The improvisation reaches a critical tension point and where it finally explodes into recapitulation of the melody.

Track 3, Beat Street, was composed by Ballard. The song's highly energetic melody and parade-like dance beats, changing tempos and shifting directions, mark the up-lifting character of this song and adventurous spirit of the band. Gershwin's The Man I Love exhibits the deep knowledge and embrace of the American music tradition.

Free 1 is a short free improvisation which prepares the listener's ears for the change of sonics from the very acoustic to the extremely electric sounds on track six. Track six is Hangin' Tree, a cover of one of today's more popular rock groups, Queens Of The Stone Age. In this piece the band reveals another layer of unsuspected character.

Dal (A Rhythm Song) is taken from Bela Bartok's 44 Duos for 2 Violins. This haunting piece works wonderfully with the two voices of alto saxophone and guitar. Silvio Rodriguez's bolero El Reperador Del Suenos with the modern rhythmic elements Zenon has worked into the arrangement, still maintains the integrity of its ageless cuban roots.

Track nine is Loueke's Mivakpola. Rich in dark colors and textures, the slow tempo create a gentle meditative mood. The unique fleshy sound of drums helps to create this mood, as does Lionel's lovely voice which is heard on this track. Free 3 is what could be considered a glimpse into the future of the band. Completely improvised, still the song feels guided by something which heads towards a promise of what will come next.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The guitar / sax / drum trio has pedigree and any group with this line up is always going to be compared to Paul Motian's trio - not only the ultimate trio in this style but one of the very greatest groups in jazz for well over twenty years. On first listen, this trio led by Jeff Ballard seemed a bit of a let down and I suppose my initial disappointment was because Motian was a far more distinctive drummer than Ballard so that there are only really two distinctive "voices." It is also fair to say that Miguel Zenon , whilst one of my favourite alto players of today, isn't quote a prone to Joe Lovano's frequently outside explorations nor does Lionel Loueke's guitar quite blend with the horn as was the case with Bill Frisell. I was also struck how this record contrasted with more recent records with guitarists such as Jeff Parker and Mary Halvorson with "Time's Tales" being edgy yet not quite on the periphery of the cutting edge.

Despite these reservations this record proves to get better with successive listens. Loueke's wonderfully slippery and golden guitar sound is always a joy to hear and repeated spins reveals that there is often a lot of music going on in this disc. My favourite tracks are those that are more "outside", whether this is the final, freely improvised piece or the notated bird call which manages to sound like it was written by Ornette Coleman as opposed to originating from nature. The only standard is pitched squarely in Motian territory and includes one of the most imaginative of Loueke's solos. Elsewhere the cover of the "Queens of the Stone Age" track is extremely grungy with some blistering alto from Zenon over the drummer's bombast.

All in all, this is a mixed selection of tracks.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
brilliant, and who needs a bass player 2 May 2014
By K. McCandless - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Percussionist extraordinaire Ballard, alto genius/composer/educator Miguel Zenon, and artisan guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke deliver a 10-track treat. Loueke's few vocalizations are mostly scat, discreet and cool. Original, brilliant, and who needs a bass player?
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Definitely a stong trio record. 28 Feb. 2014
By Braz - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Klling, fresh sounds. Fantastic drumming and fantastic palette of drums. Beautiful playing by all three musicians. You never miss a bass player because Lionel covers that part of the music when it's needed - so the whole thing feels very nice and open.
Jeff Ballard and his trio is a great find! 4 July 2014
By U.B. Ware - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Someone new added to my collection of jazz...Jeff Ballard and his trio is a great find!
stick it in the player 30 Aug. 2014
By the X man - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Fluency ..maturity and full of surprises.another outing on the mark and
Off to the races..urging the listener to keep up.
Great music. Be sure to pick up every one ... 19 July 2014
By Rick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Superstar trio. Great music. Be sure to pick up every one of Miguel Zenon's CDs, too.
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