Remember all those art-house B movies about dope fiends, those grainy black and white 50s soft porn peep show vignettes, that strange underworld of art wherein you took it all in with a hazed grin but wondered "Where the hell are they getting all that cool post-beatnik jazz from in the soundtracks???" 'Member those? I do, which is probably revealing more about me than I should. One rarely discovered from whom and whence the sounds issued, though, and it was never quite in the Dexter Gordon / Charlie Parker mode, more the Maynard G. Krebs / Lol Coxhill side of things. Writer Marc Medwin quite rightly attributes many modalities to Richard Tabnik, his trio, and their A Prayer for Peace—Cagian and way-post-Mozartian included—and I have no quibble with any of it; still, this is beatnik jazz, bubba, and thank the stars for that 'cause it's a disappearing medium.
Medwin also notes, in his 4-page liner essay, that Prayer arose from a conversation between saxist Tabnik and drummer Roger Mancuso. I say that conversation extended deeply into the music and became more than a set of internal interchanges. Musical conversations occur in three levels: with oneself, between fellow players, and outward to the audience. Most groups play a set with themselves, work for the audience or disport among themselves in improv, but Tabnik and Trio are one of those rare units conversing to the audience. There's a difference, and you can as much feel as hear it in this double disc uniquely presenting the studio version of the centerpiece, Symphony for Jazz Trio: A Prayer for Peace, and then a live version on the second disc. The triumvirate's sound not only creates itself but also projects preternaturally without any need for over-amplification or histrionics, resulting in palpable 3-D tactility. That's what caught my attention right off the bat; that's the unique hook.
Peace unfolds itself like a novel: intro, exposition, then an involved weaving meditation culminating in denouement, reflection, and recap/coda. Especially during the 12:17 What About the Homeless?, Tabnik's mind and heart are laid open in a melancholic dirge fretting over brother and sister humans caught in the merciless jaws of the carcinogenic virus we call 'capitalism', and Richard doesn't just appraise the unfortunates, he gets down in the gutter with them, sleeps the cold nights, wonders about his next meal. It's all right there in his horn, a sad mistral lark lamenting man's inhumanity to man. Mancuso and bassist Adam Lane quietly tread the path just steps behind, writing it all down, a tear welling up, Lane's solo becoming a poem laid beside a fresh grave. Don't expect Gato Barbieri, Jaco Pastorius, and Billy Cobham, this isn't a chopsfest but instead an essay, a journal entry covering the silent class war, a reflection in a rain puddle under lowering skies.
Tabnik, you see, has read Smedley Butler's classic War is a Racket and has followed the hallowed USMC Major General's observations out to their grim final end: the toll on the homefront to the least among us. When fully half or more of America's incredible dazzling wealth is given to warmongers and ravening inhuman business monsters, what's left for us, we from whom the money was taken? The answer is embedded in this CD set, and, speaking of Smedley Butler—not to mention L. Fletcher Prouty, Chris Hedges, Michael Chussadofsy, Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, and a fully loaded double handful of others—I cannot wait for the day the present era's radio pseuds (the "Left", the "progressive", the "liberal" infauxtainers) disappear, which they're blindly working on even as I write, thank God, along with their chirographic brethren and we have some true and palpable Leftist thinking in this country: an end to religion, capitalism, Republicanism, and the myriad poisons which have malefically clogged mankind's lifelines for all of history and now threaten to consummate their collective fell intent to a degree that will horrify future generations…if any survive long enough to produce those later cultures. So when you, dear reader/listener, turn on the radio, when you're watching for the vultures, don't forget the snakes.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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