From Terrell Holmes - The New York City Jazz Record

Lew Tabackin Trio: Soundscapes

Lew Tabackin sounds as vivacious as ever on his latest album, the listener in the palm of his hand from the opening notes. The album, a trio date with bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Mark Taylor, was recorded predominantly at Steve Maxwell"s midtown Manhattan drum shop (one cut was done in Tabackin"s basement).

A Classic feeling runs throughout, beginning with John Lewis" "Afternoon in Paris", which has a strong suggestion of "All the Things You Are". Tabackin exhibits a coltish playfulness on tenor saxophone as he taps into his encyclopedic musical vocabulary, playfully sprinkling in quotes from Charlie Parker and the easygoing swing of Latin-tinged "Bb, That"s Where It"s At". There"s an intermittent stridency and atonality at times during Tabackin"s otherwise smooth delivery, but it"s so non-intrusive it almost seems like he"s poking gentle fun at that style of playing as he simultaneously embraces it. "Minor" is a gentle waltz whose earthiness and tonality is as warm and comforting as a lullaby. Billy Strayhdorn"s "Day Dream" is appropriately laid-back at the onset, occasionally approaching the borders of free playing, and culminates with Kozlov"s thrumming bowed solo and Tabackin"s splendid unaccompanied coda.

Tabackin is equally impressive on flute. He blows fire and grittiness on "Garden at Life Time" and Kozlov"s upper register pizzicato complements him perfectly, enhancing the texture and color. The timeless "Yesterdays" is usually played at a ruminative tempo and the trio begins that way but soon crosses "A Night in Tunisia" kind of bridge and the song becomes an uptempo showcase for dynamic flute solo. Tabackin takes a pleasantly evocative turn on Ellington"s tender "Sunset and the Mockingbird", fluttering mischievously around the melody.

Soundscapes sprints to the finish with "Three Little Words", a sunburst of a tune where Tabackin underscores his half-century of accumulated skill with more tenor work. The duet he shares with Taylor in the middle is great because there"s actual listening and a discernible structure instead of random thrashing and honking. One can actually hear Tabackin and Taylor"s thoughts thoughts meshing. Soundscapes is a work that defines virtuosity, one that doesn"t shy away from complexity yet revels in simplicity.

From Dan Bilawsky -

Lew Tabackin Trio: Soundscapes

There's no substitute for experiencing jazz live. There are, however, some recordings that manage to do a damn good job coming close. This happens to be one of them.

Noted jazz photographer Jimmy Katz, who's quickly developed a strong reputation as a recording engineer and producer who seeks to capture jazz in its true and unaltered forms, was the impetus behind the creation of this album. He sold saxophonist-flutist Lew Tabackin on the idea, set up a makeshift recording environment in Steve Maxwell's Vintage and Custom Drum Shop in Manhattan, and created a scenario where this trio could simply do its thing without the stress that comes with the studio. It all came off beautifully in the end, leading to this excellent addition to Tabackin's discography.

It's often easy to overlook Tabackin because he doesn't churn out an album a year to stay in the jazz public eye. But it's impossible to forget him when you hear music like this. There's much to commend and respect here, beyond the obvious technical matters, and it all starts with the song setups. Note how Tabackin uses Charlie Parker-influenced abstraction as a greeting on Duke Ellington's "Sunset And The Mockingbird," observe how the trio bookends "Yesterdays" with rubato allure, and check out the Sonny Rollins-esque solo introduction on "Afternoon In Paris." If those things aren't enough to impress you, the thought and humanity in the music should do the trick. It's hard not to take notice of the manner in which Tabackin balances tenderness and masculinity during Billy Strayhorn's "Day Dream," or how he walks a mystical and uniquely introspective path on "Garden At Life Time." These are the things that separate the good from the great, and Tabackin has been a member of the latter category for longer than most can recall.

Bassist Boris Kozlov, drummer Mark Taylor, and Tabackin have been at it for quite a while together. They breathe as one, swing like mad, explore the borders of uncertainty, and exhibit a high level of trust that can only come from shared experiences. Their chemistry is apparent at every turn—when volleying the ball back and forth, playing with a loose-tight duality, keeping things cool, or kicking things into overdrive—and they always seem to be right at home. The art of the trio is alive and well in the hands of these three men.
Personnel: Lew Tabackin: tenor saxophone, flute; Boris Kozlov: bass; Mark Taylor: drums.

From Ron Weinstock -

Soundscapes - Lew Tabackin Trio

A new self-produced recording by the Lew Tabackin Trio, "Soundscapes," is one that certainly merits plenty of attention. Tabackin, whose career spans decades, continues to display remarkable fluency on tenor sax and flute and construct some remarkable improvisations. Tabackin is joined by bassist Peter Kozlov and drummer Mark Taylor on this recording that was engineered by Jimmy Katz and mostly recorded at Steve Maxwell's Drum Shop, with the exception of one selection done at Tabackin's basement.

The opening performance, John Lewis' "Afternoon in Paris", immediately sets the tone with the authority and imagination of Tabackin's playing. The robustness of his playing along with the exemplary support by Kozlov and Taylor, and the trio's interplay, makes this and the entire album stand out. Particularly impressive selections include Tabackin's blues "Bb Where It's At" opening as a percussion supported duet between Tabackin and Kozlov that features the leader's marvelous improvisation with Taylor's accents on snare and cymbals adding to the performance's flair. Three selections feature Tabackin on flute of which his fat, wet playing on the standard "Yesterday's," stands out. Tabackin was a regular poll winner in the eighties and his playing on this and the rest of this recording illustrate why. Then there is a spellbinding interpretation of Billy Strayhorn's "Daydream." .

When listening to a trio recording by a tenor saxophonist, one is reminded of legendary Sonny Rollins' "Live at the Village Vanguard." While not exclusively devoted to Tabackin on tenor, "Soundscapes" can stand the comparison and stands out as a superb hard bop trio recording.

From Bob Bernotas -

Soundscapes - Lew Tabackin Trio

On both tenor saxophone and flute Lew Tabackin has a distinctive sound and a singular concept, and he displays them abundantly on his new pianoless trio CD. Bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Mark Taylor provide sensitive support and leave ample space for Tabackin's immense improviser's imagination to work its magic.

From Raul da Gama -

Soundscapes - Lew Tabackin Trio

There is no earthly reason why Lew Tabackin should be known only among the cognoscenti. Apart from being co-leading the iconic big band with his wife Toshiko Akiyoshi he has spearheaded may memorable ensembles including this wonderful trio with bassist Boris Kozlov and long-time associate and drummer Mark Taylor. But that is only name association. Tabackin's sound is singular; one-of-a-kind and informed by an enormous tone-colour palette. He plays in mighty parabolic leaps with broad, gliding glissandos and terrifyingly beautiful, darting arpeggios and yet when his wonderfully mellifluous music demands his lines are simple and curves with but a hint of tremolo to finish them off. His playing claims it's decent from Big Ben Webster and Sonny Rollins. All this means is that he has great lineage on the tenor saxophone. On flute he joins Eric Dolphy as one of the most virtuoso and mystical players on the instrument.

The word Soundscapes may sound like a common title; one you might have heard before in a multitude of situations, especially relating to music. But it has a very specific meaning with regard to this album of songs. It is an attempt to paint an endless canvas using mixed media, as it were. Here the tenor saxophone may stand for a broad, thicker brush and the music produced like viscous oils seemingly in an endless flow down the metamorphosing backdrop held in esteem by the finest jazz musicians. The flute, at Tabackin's lips is as wet as the thin brush of a Japanese watercolour. Metaphorically speaking, then, this is a tale of the topographical journey that we sometimes call jazz. There are no troughs in this music that flows in a continuously cresting mass of oil and water, mixing as if by magic in the idiom of jazz.

One hardly misses that vocal content of music as Lew Tabackin literally sings on his two instruments. What genial phrasing, supple balances and effortless ensemble unanimity Tabackin enjoys with Kozlov and Taylor without getting overly loud when textures become thick on the tenor of wispy thin on the flute. Those little fluttering on slower tracks like Tabackin's Minoru or Billy Strayhorn's Day Dream and Duke Ellington's Sunset and the Mockingbird suggest that the musicians might be mouthing a silent vocal as they play; such is the lyricism that flows from their respective instruments. Garden at Life Time transpires lightly and the muted delicacy of Sunset and the Mockingbird may be worth the price of the entire release.

By contrast, Tabackin's and his trio's clear and conscientious rendition of Afternoon in Paris and Yesterdays delivers on sweep and giddy abandon that one hears from great ensembles featuring great musicians of our time. However, the performance catches fire in the final peroration. While Three Little Words loses very little in transposition from the orchestral to the trio version, from the film of the same name, where the music was conducted by Andre Previn. It also loses nothing in this sparer more stripped down version. Lew Tabackin phrases the gentle loping dotted rhythms with idiomatic simplicity and grace. Buy this recording for the greatness of Lew Tabackin.

From Dee Dee McNeil -

Soundscapes - Lew Tabackin Trio

On a cold, wintery, California afternoon, Tabackin and his trio warmed my house with the rich sounds of jazz. As raindrops fell and mud slid down the parched, burned, Los Angeles hillsides, I found fireplace comfort listening to Tabakin's new CD, "Soundscapes." The opening tune is John Lewis' composition, "Afternoon in Paris." played at a moderate, Swing tempo, that features each outstanding artist of this trio standing solo-strong. Tabackin's original work titled, "Garden at Life Time" was beautifully played on his flute and complimented by Kozlov's bass line that repeated like a Hip Hop 'loop' beneath the lovely melody. On another original composition, "B flat, where it's at" Taylor holds the unusual trio together with drums that lock the groove in place like a Brinks truck. Strangely, I didn't miss the piano or guitar normally associated with a jazz trio. As these artists paint daydreams, Mockingbirds and sunsets with melody, rhythm, harmony and improvisation, I realize why this project is titled, "Soundscapes". This is a melodic landscape, both remarkable and artistic, featuring reeds, bass and drums. It's fresh, innovative and pleasing to the senses. Tabackin serenades like a bird trapped in a man's body. I was surprised to read in Tabackin's linear notes that this recording took place at Steve Maxwell's drum shop in Manhattan, except one tune; a stunningly beautiful arrangement of "Yesterdays" that they recorded in Tabackin's basement. I have even more respect for this project as a "live" recording; so clean, well-mixed and seemingly perfectly arranged, that I supposed it to be a studio session. As Tabackin explains: "Most of the tunes require little explanation. I was trying to retain some of the more traditional jazz values in an open, communicative way. Not much was pre-set. The three originals are a kind of a Japan Trilogy. 'Garden at Life Time' was inspired by the garden of Yoshinobu, the last shogun of the Edo era. The garden is adjacent to a wonderful jazz club (Life Time) owned by Mr. Yutaka Kubota, who loves to play bebop piano and is a great supporter of jazz and other arts. 'B flat, Where it's At' is a light-hearted tune written for B Flat, a wonderful venue in Akasaka (Japan) where Mr. Akira Suzuki has given us unconditional support for several years. A little explanation of my 'cerangement' of 'Sunset and the Mocking Bird'... I tried to incorporate as much Bird shit as I could, even quoting a little yard Bird in my opening solo."

With this CD, Tabackin gives us a lesson in pure, untampered improvisation performed by three master musicians who uphold the name of Jazz with pride, professionalism and an abundance of creativity.

From Tom Cunniffe -

Soundscapes - Lew Tabackin Trio

It's also been a few years since we've heard from tenor saxophonist and flutist Lew Tabackin. Aside from two recordings with the New York Harmonie Ensemble, Tabackin hasn't recorded in five years. His self-released trio album, "Soundscapes" shows that he is still playing at top form. Tabackin opens the album with a brilliant solo cadenza on tenor before launching into the John Lewis evergreen "Afternoon in Paris". Tabackin's solo contrasts diatonic melodic motives with intricately twisting chromatic runs. Working without piano, Tabackin has plenty of freedom harmonically over the flexible backgrounds provided by bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Mark Taylor. The trio recorded the music live, with all but one track captured at a drum store (Tabackin notes that the sympathetic vibrations from the other drum kits in the shop can be heard in the recording; the effect is probably more noticeable when listening with headphones). Tabackin describes the three originals that follow as "a kind of Japan trilogy". The atmosphere is set immediately with Tabackin's evocative flute on "Garden at Life Time" and the stark bass ostinato and delicate cymbals enhance the picture. "B-Flat, Where It's At" is dedicated to a jazz club in Akasaka, and its not-quite-straight-ahead blues groove provides a welcome contrast to the dramatic improvisations of "Life Time". The stately waltz "Minoru" memorializes the late saxophone technician Minoru Ishimori, and the bruised tone of Tabackin's tenor seems to communicate the loss that he felt with the loss of his colleague and friend. "Yesterdays" is one of Tabackin's favorite flute vehicles, as this is his fifth recording of the Jerome Kernclassic. While he uses the same melodic idea to move to long-meter as he had on his version from the 1989 Concord album "Desert Lady", I admire the new version for the tight interplay between flute and bass on the slow choruses, and for the virtuosic solo of the leader. Billy Strayhorn's "Day Dream" is taken at a loping tempo which finally locks into a groove after Kozlov and Taylor's brief move into double-time. Kozlov plays a fine arco solo which turns into a dual improvisation with Tabackin about two-thirds of the way through the track. On the Duke Ellington piece that follows, "Sunset and the Mockingbird", Tabackin incorporates several Charlie Parker quotes into his flute solos (evidently conjuring up a different Bird than Duke envisioned!). In his notes, Tabackin hopes that Duke purists won't be offended with his "derangement"; it sounds like Ellington's music still holds up pretty well. The burning closer, "Three Little Words", features a remarkable tenor-drums duet at its center, and a delightful ritard at its coda. It's high time this Jazz Master was recognized by the NEA!

From Billy Kerr - Saxophone Journal

Live In Paris - Lew Tabackin Trio

Practically from the instant a musician decides to play jazz, the quest begins to find a personal voice. The process can sometimes take a lifetime; some individuals never really find one. To find a personal voice on more than one instrument is almost impossible, unless your name is Lew Tabackin.

Long one of the most assertive, hard-driving tenor players in jazz, his voice on that horn started with a much different timbre when he burst onto the New York jazz scene in the 1960s. Playing with bands led by Cab Calloway, Joe Henderson, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, Duke Pearson, and Maynard Ferguson, Tabackin's sound was lighter by comparison (though not a light sound by any other measure) and his playing was strongly influenced by John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. While a member of Calloway's band, Tabackin discovered Chuck Berry and began to incorporate Berry's sound and style into his own playing. While Tabackin's melodic, rhythmic and harmonic language is as fresh as today's warm bread, his tonal palette harkens back to Berry, Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster.

Tabackin's flute voice is about as individual as humanly possible; he simply does not sound like anyone else. His roots on flute go very deep, having started the instrument long before playing saxophone; Tabackin majored in flute at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. His flute voice is an amalgamation of classical purity and Japanese culture. His lines are not bebop (not that there's anything wrong with that....) but rather, cross cultural melodic/rhythmic statements of fact. His beautiful, singing sound mixes with an amazing intensity that lifts the listener right out of their seat.

The music here comes from a performance at the Pinot Jazz Club in Paris, France, March 28, 2007. The band, Tabackin's regular working group (known as Lew Tabackin and the International Trio), has been together for more than a decade, and includes Boris Kozlov (bass) and Mark Taylor (drums).

The CD opener, Self Portrait of the Bean, written by Duke Ellington for Coleman Hawkins, begins with a solo tenor cadenza of sorts. Tabackin's open, rich sound immediately pays tribute to the "Grand Master" ofthe tenor saxophone, incorporating growls, and a rich sub-tone down to low Bb. Tabackin's lines are a mixture of the arpeggiated chords identified with Hawkins, and the more modern scale/chord patterns associated with Coltrane and Rollins. In the space of approimately sixty seconds Tabackin manages to pass through eight different emotional "time zones." When bass and drums enter, the tempo is a moderate "business man's bounce" as Tabackin plays the melody. His solo is a masterpiece of melodic invention, one motive neatly unfolding into the next, telling a story filled with wisdom.

Till the End of Time, an adaptation of Chopin's Polonaise in A Flat, is up next and is a straight-ahead blowing tune that swings its head off. Tabackin's solo builds in musical content and intensity with each chorus, and while he is not one to harbor licks and cliches, he does manage a quote from Mack the Knife and, On the Trail. He covers the entire range of the horn, bottom to top. Kozlov follows with a terrific arco bass solo for several choruses. Tabackin is in for several more powerful choruses before trading fours with Taylor and the reprise of the melody.

One of the highlights of any Tabackin performance comes when he plays the flute. The good news is he turns in a masterful flute performance on John Coltrane's Wise One; the bad news is, it's the only flute tune on the CD. As soon as Tabackin plays his first, rich, beautiful note, d above the staff, you realize you are in the presence of greatness. His a cappella intro is rich in nuance and color, you hear the Japanese influence, pitch bends, foot stomps et al. The melody is played over a pedal tone played by acro bass, and Tabackin solos over an Afrollatin groove when drums enter. To try to put into words what happens musically is futile, you must hear this for yourself.

Thelonious Monk is represented by two great tunes, Eronel and Ask Me Now. Eronel begins with Tabackin playing a wonderful a cappella intro that includes excerpts from several Monk tunes, including Epistrophy, Bemsha Srulng (with some terrific multiphonics for punctuation) and Monh's Mood. When bass and drums enter, the three cats hit a medium groove that swings till the cows come home. Ask Me is played as a warm, beautiful ballad. Tabackin's musical lines are played with passion, soul and unending creativity.

The final tune, I'll Be Seeing You, a closer the trio uses often, is an up-tempo romp that will leave you smiling. Tabackin has long been revered as a jazz master, and this performance gives all the testimony needed to support that idea. Drummer, Taylor, gets to stretch out in a well-formed solo before engaging in a tenor/drum duet and the final recap ofthe melody.

Playing with only bass and drums is not for the faint of heart, but Tabackin is completely at home in this setting. This recording presents Tabackin, his two personal musical voices, and his cohorts at their best; check them out.


Toshiko Akiyoshi & Lew Tabackin at Yoshi's

Early in her 8:00 set at Yoshi’s San Francisco, pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi spoke in charmingly accented English about the salad days of her six-decade career. She said that after spending her youth in Japan absorbing and imitating other pianists, she eventually realized “the need to find my own idiosyncracies.”

The highly individualistic voice she discovered was on prominent display in this hard-swinging quartet gig, along with the turbo-charged sax and flute playing of Akiyoshi’s husband, Lew Tabackin. Although few were on hand to hear this stripped-down alternative to their acclaimed big band, Akiyoshi and Tabackin filled the void with a quirky, vibrant brand of high-energy bebop.

Akiyoshi’s style can take a couple of tunes to adjust to, and her unaccompanied solo break in the opening “Long Yellow Road” (Akiyoshi’s de facto theme song) was like a crash course. Swinging yet fascinatingly mercurial, her left hand sounded tart, staccato chords and sudden dissonant crashes, while her right swirled like a dust devil or fluttered willy-nilly like a butterfly, prancing unpredictably and with impish humor.

Tabackin was the dominant force through much of the set. Solid and square-jawed, bending at the waist and knees, Tabackin scuttled a few steps forward or back in frequent moments of blazing intensity. On tenor saxophone, he provided explosive outbursts linked by flowing supersonic flights, his incredible breath control making it all sound seamless. And his tribute to Coleman Hawkins in “Self Portrait of the Bean” poured out like whiskey, a gruff, bluesy ode to the night owls.

But Tabackin’s finest moment came on flute. “Autumn Sea” felt like a kabuki theatre performance, coming down from Akiyoshi’s bright, bouncing intro to a hauntingly expressive, shakuhachi-like solo, slow and vast, punctuated by stamps of Tabackin’s foot and, later, low mallet work by drummer Mark Taylor.

Taylor and bassist Peter Washington kept the sound fresh with brisk, skipping rhythm, providing just the right balance of straightforward drive and agile openness for the co-leaders’ unique east-west bop attack. It’s a sound that lingers in the ear, idiosyncratic indeed, and greatly satisfying.

From Der Bund (English Translation Click Here to view original German version in the presskit reviews document)

An Amazing Jazz Surrealist By Tom Gsteiger

The saxophone player Lew Tabackin has a long beard – his music fortunately doesn’t.

No signs of being mellowed by age. 1940 born Lew Tabackin still enjoys riding on the fast lane. Sometimes he races so extremely fast through the registers of his instrument, that you nearly get dizzy. Astonishing is, with what kind of elegance Tabackin plays his sprints and salti mortali. He is up to every trick!

His gig at Marian's Jazz room he was in great company. Pianist Dada Moroni is an exeptionally gifted musician as well, from heavy block accords to racy bop-runs to power play ala McCoy, he knows it all. Moroni has his influences internalized so sovereignly, that you never feel like being in a second hand shop. And there is reason for Peter Washington being one of the most demanded Bass players of the new york straight ahead scene.

Jason Browen is the opposite of an spectacular drummer, he never intends to come to the fore, he looks after the art of tasteful swing. The combination in this band works.

That Tabackin’s Repertoire mostly consists out of the times of swing and bebop is no coincidence. Opposite to most of the other saxophone player of his generation he doesn’t follow John Coltrane. Last not least his vibrato rich, full-bodied sound shows, that he intensively argued with the “heroic tenors”, who delivered the soundtrack to the hedonistic decadent era , that F.Scott Fitzgerald raised a monument with “the great Gatsby”.

Opposite to the 14 years younger Scott Hamilton Lew Tabackin is not an diehard nostalgic, but peps his sometimes racy, sometimes opulent rhapsodic Swing with modern bebop and a bit of surrealism. What David Liebman as an soprano saxophonist does with with the music of John Coltrane , Tabackin does as tenor saxophonist with the music of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster a & co. He modernizes them in a very discrete way, without destroying their genre.


Across the fairgrounds on Bill Berry Stage another veteran pianist, Toshiko Akiyoshi, showed that, at 80, she really is as good as ever. A Bud Powell protege, former band leader and arranger, she vigorously attacked the piano, setting a lightning fast tempo on her "Long Narrow Road." Her co-leader, husband Lew Tabakin, was peerless on tenor and flute. On Akiyoshi's "Autumn Seed," Tabakin's flute evoked rustling breezes while drummer Mark Taylor provided Kabuki flavor. The band also included the wonderful Peter Washington on bass. He and Tabakin collaborated on Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism," the tenor getting almost in the face of the bass. While soloing, Tabakin is constantly in motion, rocking back and forth, roaming the stage; he gets into it with his whole body.

First Place, Flute, Swing Journal Reader's poll, 2007, 2008

NY Times
July 20, 2007
Music Review

Sounds to Quiet a Crowd While Recalling Faded Times

On Wednesday, Lew Tabackin played at Smalls, a square, shallow basement club in the West Village where the drummer sat about an arm’s reach from the end of the bar. There was some talking in the back at the start of the set, and at first Mr. Tabackin played near a microphone. But then the talking stopped and the place felt like a soundproof room.

Mr. Tabackin, playing tenor saxophone, walked away from the microphone and started moving with his phrases, jerking up a knee and rearing his head back; his natural sound suffused the place for the rest of the set. He used the microphone again only to play the flute - which he does better than most flute players in jazz, with a sound that starts strong and doesn’t flicker away.

But the sound of his saxophone playing was the draw. It had a slight rasp, soft subtones in the low notes and even control through the registers; he scattered stylized shakes of vibrato all through his playing. His phrasing isn’t that eccentric but can intimate eccentricity, with jumbles of intervals, gargling sounds, long streams of notes. He always acknowledged the swing accents of the rhythm section and the arrival of the next bar. And his soloing was full of larger-scale form, too: like Coleman Hawkins, he built up his big statements to a single, brusque falsetto shriek, then closed off the thought with a sense of symmetry.

The set contained a few originals, a ballad standard full of fast, braying lines (“I’ll Be Seeing You”) and some ’50s jazz that ran parallel to bebop: Oscar Pettiford’s “Tricotism,” Thelonious Monk’s “Eronel” and “Ask Me Now.” But its subtext held two larger truths about jazz. One is that we should take jazz’s old, disappearing virtues of sound and form where we find them. The other is that someone like Mr. Tabackin might be best appreciated in a place that can fit only about 100 people - a lousy business model, perhaps, but one that lets a listener really feast on sound, wallow in it and remember it.

Mr. Tabackin developed his craft in the late ’50s and early ’60s, which means he’s old enough to know the importance of a big, round saxophone sound. This was the standard set by jazz tenor players through the middle of the last century - those, like Hawkins, who played in big bands, with singers, in roadhouses and dancehalls, who had to make their mark on popular ballads that dancers knew in their bones.

But he was also the right age to absorb the Sonny Rollins trio records from 1957 and 1958. Those records were buoyant and playful, full of the sense of discovery that a saxophonist could sound good leading a band, without a chordal instrument like guitar or piano, and that playfulness set the dimensions for Wednesday’s set. One original piece, “Studio F,” sounded like a cousin to the melody from Mr. Rollins’s “Freedom Suite,” but the similarity was much more general. The trio’s bassist, Boris Kozlov, and its drummer, Mark Taylor, played bouncing melodic figures with limited volume; they were pursuing a durable ideal of swinging without getting in the way. And Mr. Tabackin, within precise limits, let himself go.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Monk (Spirits Of New York Review .jpg)
Will Friedwall
Mike Joyce
Lew Tabackin, Saluting Smartly

"The Kennedy Center's "100th Birthday Tribute to Coleman Hawkins" at the KC Jazz Club on Saturday night fell in t the category of "better late than never." Far, far better.

Hawkins, who was actually born in 1904, established the tenor sax as a prominent voice in early jazz and subsequently achieved both commercial and critical success. Saturday night veteran tenor-man Lew Tabackin took on the daunting task of evoking Hawkins's deeply resonating tone and bold stylistic innovations. There were reminders of Hawkins's seemingly effortless transition from swing to bop, his daring forays into unaccompanied tenor sax performances, and his commanding (and often surprising) way with a romantic ballad.

Like the evening's honoree, Tabackin displayed great harmonic and rhythmic assurance as he moved through a series of mostly quartet arrangements that featured an exceptional array of talent: pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Mark Taylor. The performances included a melodically intriguing salute to Hawkins's landmark recording of "Body and Soul"; a short, unaccompanied improvisation inspired by Hawkins's unprecedented "Picasso" period in the late 1940's; and a warmly evocative, brush-stroked rendering of "Self Portrait (of the Bean)," which recalled the late reedman's collaborations with Duke Ellington.

During the concert, part of the Kennedy Center's ongoing "1940s and the Arts" series, Tabackin briefly veered from the tenor sax program so as not to disappoint anyone who came to hear him play flute. As it turned out, though, some of the melodic twist he brought to Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays" didn't sound far removed from Hawkins's bountiful legacy."

Tuesday June 15, 2004
Zan Stewart

Fine music abounds at Jazziest

Low Tabackin salute to Coleman Hawkins

"Good music was in abundance on Sun­day's program of the Aventis Pharmaceuti­cals New Jersey Jazz Society Jazzfest 2004. Marking the 29th anniversary of the NJJS event, Jazzfest was also held Saturday, both days on the grounds of Fairleigh Dickinson niversity in Madison.

"A particular highlight was tenor saxo­phonist Lew Tabaeldn's celebration of Cole­man Hawkins (1904-1969), whose centennial. along with Count Basie's and Fats Waller's, was being feted at the festival. Performing in Dreyfuss Auditorium, Tabackin worked sans microphone, and his handsome, expansive sound - variously grainy, breathy, crying, and ringing -- easily reached the back row.

"Tabackin teamed with trumpeter Randy Brecker and drummer Mark Taylor, two vet- eran associates, pianist David Hazeltine and bassist Dennis Irwin. The set ran from tunes that Hawkins wrote, such as "Rifftide," to his hit in 1939, "Body and Soul."

"The tenorman described "Rlfftide" as a "New Jersey tune," because it is almost iden­tical to a Thelonious Monk composition known as "Hackensack" In characteristic fashion, Tabackin was a powerhouse, using short, swinging thoughts, phrases where he smeared his notes, and dashing lines to de. liver his mainly song-like message. The con. summate Brecker, with a warm-to-crackling sound, played bold, high notes in a Dizzy Gillespie vein, happy, swinging ideas a la Louis Armstrong, and deft, intricate lines that recalled Fats Navarro. Hazeltine, Irwin and Taylor were likewise top-drawer.

The Columbus Dispatch
Thursday Octobar 28, 2004
Curtis Schleber

Drew Jr., Tabackin take menu of classic tunes, make 'em cook

"The words jazz and hit might seem contradictory together. But when a jazz piece becomes familiar to a large audience, it serves to welcome the listener. That was the case when the Columbus Jazz Orchestra opened its "Swingin' At The Southern" series last night.

"The program was a home run for the ensemble not only because the musicians sidestepped the shopworn tone of such tunes as Jumpin' at the Woodside, Someday My Prince Will Come and Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me, but because guest pianist Kenny Drew Jr. and saxophonist Lew Tabackin nearly outshone the material.

"Drew dazzled with remarkable technical ability, displaying chops that showed his classical training and a terrific pedigree. (Drew Sr. is a highly respected pianist who recorded with John Coltrane, Dexter Cordon, Buddy Rich and many others.)

"Drew Jr. poured it all out during an extended introduction to Ellington's It Don't Mean a Tiring (if it Ain't Got That Siving), deconstructing the melody at a blinding pace. The orchestra came in at a fraction of the tempo, accenting the piano. The streams conflicted at first and then joined in a bracing outing that Included the "kitchen sink" from Drew and a smoking solo from saxophonist Michael Cox.

"Drew's medley of Ellington's Single Petal of a Rose and Prelude to a Kiss featured a lovely pastoral Rose

"The Columbus Jazz Orchestra will present " The Jazz Hit Parade, with saxophonist Lew Tabakin and pianist Kenny Drew Jr., at 8 tonight through Saturday night and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the Southern Theatre, 21 E. Main St. Tickets cost $24 to $48, or $5 for ages 13 to 18t at the Jazz Arts Group office (6142945200, Ext. 3), the Ohio Theatre box office (614469-0939) and Ticketmaster outlets (614-431-3600).

"Tabackin's contributions were on a higher level still. A veteran of 30 years co-leadIng the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band with his pianist wife, Tabackin Is a brilliant and emotive improviser at the top of his form.

"Among the spotlights last night, Billy Strayhorn's Chelsea Bridge not only provided the evening's high, but one of the most powerful performances the Columbus Jazz Orchestra has hosted in several years.

"Tabackin opened with an extended unaccompanied solo that twisted marvelously, celebrating and re-examining the song's lush melody. When the band joined, he continued to explore the tune with a structuralism akin to Sonny Rollins' and a storytelling ability that recalled Lester Young. He found the gorgeous contradictions in the song: It is muscular and gentle, emotionally starved and erupting In feeling. His performance was simply as good as it gets.

"He not only made memories but also spurred the group on to a fabulous ensemble performance. Singer Dwight Lennox caught the favor for those tunes as well.

Globe and Mail
Thursday November 11, 2004
Mark Miller

Tenor Soloist Makes Great Sax

"Come the 21st of this month, the jazz world will celebrate the centenary of the legendary tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins's birth. Lew Tabackin himself a tenorist at least partly in the Hawkins tradition, got off to a head start on Tuesday at the Top o' The Senator in Toronto.

"If it wasn't for Coleman Hawkins," Tabackin mused midway through the evening's opening set, "I don't know what we would sound like. We'd probably still be in vaudeville." He went onto Wall of Hawkins's "firsts" in the history of the saxophone in jazz.

"A case could be also made for Sidney Bechet's significance in the transformation of the instrument from its beginnings as a novelty item, but bechet played soprano and his centenary was seven years ago. So Hawkins is the man of the particular hour/month/year, and Tabackin paid his respects with two tunes, neither of which was Body and Soul, the balled chat Bean - ore Hawkins was known - recorded to such enduring effect in 1939.

"No, Taback n chose instead to play Hanid (that's "Dinah" backwards) and Duke Ellington's Self Portrait (of the Bean), each offered in dose approximation of Hawkins's large-than-life style - his hearty tone, his shuddering vibrato, his sometimes gruff expressivity, his deceptively modem harmonic and melodic ingenuity and his rhythmic vigour.

"And never mind the tunes; the fact that a saxophonist of Tabackin's generation and contemporary leanings - he's 64, Philadelphia-born - could fad such clear inspiration in a musician whose career dates back to the mid-1920s speaks volumes about Hawkins' lasting impact on jazz.

"It also speaks well of Tabackin that, under normal circumstances (the extended version of How Deep Is the Oceam that opened Tuesday first set, for example), he has personalized Hawkins's influence in combination with more recent developments it jazz. His own sound is lighter and has attack striving In a decidedly boppish manner his solos hurtle along, though withou t ever quite getting ahead of themselves or spinning out of control.

"He dances when he plays - dips, knees-ups, back arches, two steps to the rear and a couple sideways, all is if to counterbalance the risk and reach so typical of his improvisations. And he hikes to blow long, unaccompanied cadenzas, either to set up or wind down whatever tune is at hand. That's another bow to Hawkins,, whose 1948 recording of Picasso established an early and high standard for such sob ventures.

"Tabackin's fondness for self sufficiency was certainly no reflection on the tidy support that he was receiving, as required, from his three Toronto musicians at the Senator, pianist Mark Eisenman bassist Steve Wallace and drummer Joe Poole. Indeed, there was a fascinating subtext to the performance as Poole, making his "big league debut with a musician of Tabackin's international stature, worked his way smartly from a rather nervous start to a very confident finish.

Der Bund

"Full Blast and Risky Tricks

"Lew Tabackin belongs to a rare species, being a Jazz Archaeologist and Adventurer all at once! The first night of his Bern concerts, the 1940 born American presented himself in extraordinary shape!

"The ideas and the air would just NOT run out! His risky though precise tenor tricks have, from a dramatic point of view, a lot in common with the swordfights in pirate flicks: It's about flashy spectacle and ways of getting out "exit-less" situations.

"The hero tenorists of the pre-bop era, with their "raspy" timbres, as well as Parker's ability or Sonny Rollins' sarcasm are important inspirational sources for Tabackin who who becomes sort of a turbo saxophonist! His awareness of history was proved by dedicating part of the set to the late great Coleman Hawkins, who established the tenor sax, almost alone, as the jazz instrument par excellence!

"Body and Soul," the tune that catapulted Hawkins into the jazzolymp in 1939, obviously couldn't be undermined. He plays ballads warm-heartedly as well as in doubletime. Especially beautiful was Tabackin's interpretation of Ellington's "Self Portrait of the Bean." Another Duke "Sunset and the Mockingbird" was performed extraordinarily on flute. Again, he demonstrated to be an expressive virtuoso on this chosen instrument. Backed by a true elite trio, the Italian Dado Moroni, who offered stride- jumps as well as McCoy Tyner voicings, Peter Washington (bass) and Lewis Hash (drums) who were swinging with sovereign authority!

"Tabackin said: "I wanna leave a good impression behind'! This he achieved in outstanding fashion!

L.A. Times
Thursday July 24, 2003
Don Heckman

A Gallery of Tabackin's Artful Improv

Opportunities to experience the art of jazz improvisation are rare. What one hears at most jazz performances is the craft of jazz improvisation - its technique, its virtuosity, its entertainment.

Although that offers plenty of attractions, there's something even more special in hearing jazz that moves into the heart of the mysterious process of improvisation as artistic expression.

Which leads to tenor saxophonist Lew Tabackin's appearance this week at the Jazz Bakery. Working with the empathetic support of bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Mark Taylor, he played an opening set Tuesday that was a stunning example of a musician in full pursuit of his creative muse.

Tabackin began on tenor saxophone with an exploration of "sweet and Lovely," establishing an immediate high point for the evening with a series of organically expanding, growingly complex variations. Starting with melodic paraphrases, he gradually moved into rapidly executed arpeggios interspersed with occasional high-note shouts, reaching a peak of expressiveness in bursting streams of double-time passages.

Tabackin offered a brief apology at the close of his set, noting that the trio had just flown in from the East Coast. If he was implying that he intends to take his music to another level - and even if he doesn't - the balance of his week at the Bakery will be one of the don't-miss jazz experiences of the year.

Other compelling material followed -- [Lew Tabackin]'s touching ballad "Broken Dreams," Duke Ellington's rarely heard "Serenade to Sweden" and a high-speed romp through "Without a Song." On another original, inspired by Kobo Abe's novel (and the subsequent film) "Woman in the Dunes," he switched to flute, his solo's roving circularity darkly reflective of the story's sense of enigmatic isolation.

Saxophone Journal
May/June 1998
Tim Price

concord Records

Without a doubt Lew Tabackin is one of the greatest tenor saxophone players the world has ever heard! Tenority is one of Lew's most important recordings to date because it showcases him at his most creative level, on saxophone. It exemplifies just how virtuostic Lew's playing has become. He flies through all registers of the tenor with flawless precision and grooves hard constantly. His history and career as a musician shows one of the most important aspects of jazz as a craft. He speaks the language of jazz as a true jazzman. Lew has lived and played with all the masters. You can hear in his creativity that his course of study was on the bandstand. Jazz is a recognizable language, unfortunately, there is little chance in today's world to experience or be a part of jazz in a live setting. Schools will teach you the "grammar" of jazz and the "vocabulary" of jazz but they will never be able to teach you how to use the language so that it is recognizably jazz. You must listen, listen, and listen constantly. This is something that is really missing in many players today. That is why I urge all of you to check out Lew Tabackin now!

He is one of the finest examples of a true player. A man guided by his own agenda, one of today's most luminary jazz artists. If you play the saxophone and never heard of him, or got the chance to hear his music, it's about time you did. His use of the body of sound is most inspiring. By that I mean, the sound he gets on the tenor. It's one of the best in jazz. His time feel and the way he shapes his phrases is extraordinary. His breath control and use of long lines, multiphonics, and doing it on standard songs is astounding. The disc here is a beautiful collection of Monk, Berlin, Gershwin, Al Jolson, Raye, and DePaul as well as some choice Tabackin jazz originals. The first five cuts feature pianist Don Friedman. He really shines here and is the ultimate band player. I enjoy his solos, his note choices are well informed, and he blends the random and the abstract together well. Friedman's flawless precision has always knocked me out! On the cut 5 through 7, trumpet master Randy Brecker is added. This is one of Tabackin's most important counterparts here. This document with Lew and Randy is of extreme importance to the world of jazz. The coherent playing of Brecker and the definition of Lew's sound is inspiring. Brecker and Tabackin simply challenge the conventions of official musical culture and structure. I've always loved the exhaustive scope of Randy Brecker's solos with his very careful attention to the many separate threads of his subject matter and hi distinctive point of view. His trumpet playing is a revelation and a delight. Randy is one of the most important musicians and composers of the last twenty-five years. There is simply very few that meet his level today. Peter Washington on bass and the ever swinging Mark Taylor on drums lends a constant air of excitement to the date.

This recording Tenority is simply an incredible construction of music by Lew Tabackin. All aspects are superb. As you listen to this historical CD and let your ears and mind make friends with it, beyond analysis or words, you'll find yourself traveling through exciting and vivid territories of jazz. This is music of great craft and imagination by tenor master Lew Tabackin. As such, it's a date that promises to give pleasure for years to come. Keep on Lew!

The Times
Friday June 6, 1997
Live performance at Pizza Express, WI

Champagne Flute

The Philadelphia-born Lew Tabackin is a frequent poll-winner, both for his contribution to the big band he co-leads with his wife, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and for his flute playing, Chris Parker writes. Live, though, he concentrates his formidable improvising powers on the tenor saxophone. As if to emphasize the point, for this five-day engagement he is appearing as part of a trio - completed by the British drummer Mark Taylor and Belgian bassist Phillippe Aerts - so he is able to luxuriate in the relative harmonic and rhythmic freedom resulting from the absence of a piano.

It was clear Tabackin meant business as soon as he led the band into their first tune, Come Rain or Come Shine; instead of treating Arlen's familiar melody as an easy-paced warm-up lope, he subjected it to a vigorous examination, investigating its possibilities with a thoroughness that recalled not only the rhapsodic self-absorption of Coleman Hawkins, but also the fierce intensity laced with playfulness that characterizes the solos of Sonny Rollins, one of Tabackin's strongest influences.

The latter was brought to mind even more readily by the approach Tabackin took with a follow-up number, Me and My Shadow. Like Rollins, he is an expert at molding apparently unsuitable tunes into perfect improvisational vehicles. Thus, in his hands, the apparent drawbacks of Shadow - it's slightly plodding tempo, the superficial banality of its melody - were transformed into advantages. Tadd Dameron's bog anthem, Hot House, was skillfully woven into a lively trio workout, and Duke Ellington's Serenade to Sweden proved hospitable to some smart double-time tenor passages.

But no Tabackin live performance would be compete without his celebrated flute playing, and he chose two typically varied showcases for it. John Coltrane's Wise One involved some finely judged work from Aerts, and Juan Tizol's A Gypsy Without a Song was both cogent and fluent, showing off Tabackin's pure, full-bodied sound to perfection.

Either would have been a highlight of a flautist's concert - the fact that they were almost incidental to Tabackin's superb tenor display served only to underline just what a consummate musician he is.

I'll Be Seeing You
Concord Jazz
* * * * *

Where is Lucky Thompson when we need him? Thompson and Tabackin would make a fine pair of "tough tenors." What I mean to say is that Tabackin is a tenor man "in the tradition." He incorporates a whole range of tradition in his style, from the Zooty flavor of his entrance on "I Surrender, Dear" to the Rollins-like drive of Bird's "Perhaps."

His is an arpeggiated approach, chords up and down, with a throaty attack made up of equal parts cataclysmic slurs and staccato runs. His vibrato is a broad swipe: horse laugh meets a slow, hot wind. He likes to decorate a melody, as Monk's "Ruby, My Dear" and Duke's "Isfahan" make clear. There are three flute pieces here. too, which he plunges into with the same passion that he execises on tenor. On there, as on tenor, he's inside the tune and not merely skidding along on top, as flutists are sometimes wont to do.

Green (more and more like a Red Garland or Wynton Kelly of the 90's), Washington, and Nash also show respect for the jazz tradition of swing and soulful investment. A Tabackin-Nash duet on Monk's "In Walked Bud" brings out the drummer's bopping best. The pianist's block chords on "Lost In Meditation," another Ellington tune, are divine.

I don't know how to deny any stars for this album. It would be hard to improve on the mastery evident here.
- Owen Cordle

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