“Right from the rip-roaring opening, there is a powerful, intense free/jazz eruption taking place which just lasts a couple of minutes before it breaks into a restrained section, sparse, yet spirited. When the second piece starts. it sounds as if the tenor and bowed bass are both connected and playing similar sounds. Things quiet down for some restrained frees spirit midway, the sax and bass both creating soft eerie drones for a segment. Eventually the trio soars again for some intense free improv. Mr. Bardon starts off “Carn Delk” with another haunting drone while the tenor sax centers on expanding a similar drone, making it thicker as it evolves. These three voices work well together, using similar textures and timbres and making their sound as one ecstatic sound which breathes in and out as one spirit/force.” – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC
A new trio from three master improvisers in the great sax / bass / drums tradition. This suite of compact pieces sees the players move between pure jazz skill and areas where extended techniques on all three instruments take the music into more textural and abstract areas.
Paul Hession – drums, cymbals and gongs
Michael Bardon – double bass
Christophe de Bézenac – tenor saxophone
Right from the rip-roaring opening, there is a powerful, intense free/jazz eruption taking place which just lasts a couple of minutes before it breaks into a restrained section, sparse, yet spirited. When the second piece starts. it sounds as if the tenor and bowed bass are both connected and playing similar sounds. Things quiet down for some restrained frees spirit midway, the sax and bass both creating soft eerie drones for a segment. Eventually the trio soars again for some intense free improv. Mr. Bardon starts off “Carn Delk” with another haunting drone while the tenor sax centers on expanding a similar drone, making it thicker as it evolves. These three voices work well together, using similar textures and timbres and making their sound as one ecstatic sound which breathes in and out as one spirit/force. – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC
JakTar’s début features a series of ten short pieces that the accompanying press release describes as a ‘suite’. All ‘compositions’ are credited to JakTar and I suspect that in truth all are fully improvised, it certainly sounds that way. Interestingly de Bezenac appears on tenor sax throughout, during his Trio VD days he specialised on alto. JakTar therefore deploy the classic tenor sax, bass, drums line-up pioneered by Sonny Rollins and the same instrumental configuration that graced “See You Soon Or See You Sometime”. The track titles are all in lower case and the proceedings kick off with the riotous “mitch bryan”, powered by the polyrhythmic crashes and rumbles of Hession’s drums and the busy thrum of Bardon’s bass. During his time with Trio VD de Bezenac was famed for the intensity of his playing and things are no different here as his tenor shrieks and rasps in highly belligerent fashion. It’s an excoriating opener that quickly blows any cobwebs away. The press release accompanying my copy of the CD makes reference to “extended techniques on all three instruments that take the music into more textural and abstract areas”. That’s certainly the case on the brief “greenfaces” which features the sound of pecked tenor sax, what sounds like the use of a drum stick on and between the bass strings, in addition to slightly more conventional bowing, plus the eerie percolations and shimmers of Hession’s percussion. Similar methods are deployed on its spikier cousin “hans kru” which finds de Bezenac adding vocalised sounds to his armoury alongside the eerie sounds of Bardon’s bowing and the clatter of Hession’s drums and percussion. Several of the pieces sound as if they may have been edited / extracted from longer improvisations, this track being a case in point. There’s no letting up in terms of intensity on “forn valour”, which sees the trio continuing their sonic experimentations, again reaching into the realms of extended techniques. “commoner” features slightly more conventional instrumental sounds from all three participants but is still a short and intense improvised performance. At nearly eight minutes in duration “ron on tap” is arguably the album’s centre piece. It begins in typically gnarly free jazz fashion with the patter of drums and percussion allied to pecked sax phrases, followed by the sounds of grainy bowed bass before evolving into an intense three way discussion with Hession’s cymbals and gongs a particularly dramatic component. Extended techniques are again in evidence, particularly de Bezenac’s use of multiphonics. Eventually Hession sets up an almost regular pulse, the backdrop for the vocalised wailing of the sax, the collective playing building to a volcanic intensity featuring piercing sax and thunderous drumming before eventually subsiding once more. “mongo grave” continues the trio’s abstractions with the instruments stretched to their limits. There are no conventional sax, bass or drum noises here as JakTar challenge the listener to identify the origins of their sounds. “knotskar” features the sounds of Hession’s hands on skins alongside the high pitched fluttering of de Bezenac’s sax on one of the disc’s most atmospheric pieces. It’s one of the less frenetic items on the album but it remains dark and unsettling with a ghostly atmosphere, suggestive of being lost in a forest late at night. Unaccompanied drums introduce “pip sucin”, with Bardon and de Bezenac subsequently responding to Hession as the trio crank up the intensity once more. Hession’s unstoppable flow prompts a suitably garrulous reply from de Bezenac as the pair trade musical blows, with Bardon’s bass cast in the role of referee. The album concludes with “carn delk” which marks a return to the spooky atmospherics of the earlier “Knotskar”. Bardon sets the tone with an eerie arco drone, accompanied by the multi-phonic wail of de Bezenac’s sax. Hession sits out for a while before adding mallet rumbles reminiscent of the sound of distant thunder. It’s another intense and atmospheric performance, leavened only slightly by snatches of folk inspired melody, but rates as one of the most memorable pieces on the album. “JakTar” is an uncompromising album, a musical white knuckle ride that will only suit so many ears. Easy listening it most certainly is not but free jazz aficionados will doubtless find themselves enthralled by the trio’s often abrasive soundworld. The fact that the album has been chopped up into ten mainly bite sized portions makes it easier to digest and the high degree of interaction between the musicians allied to the intensity of the playing and the command of both conventional and extended instrumental techniques is all very impressive and admirable. That said it’s not an album that I can imagine myself returning too that often. As has often been said about free jazz it is best enjoyed ‘in the moment’ at a live event. I’ve enjoyed the playing of both Hession and Bardon with various line ups at the Queens Head in Monmouth over the years and the JakTar trio were booked to play there at some point during the Covid period. Of course the pandemic put paid to that and they have yet to return. I’d be more than happy to check them out live if they ever do. – Ian Mann, JAZZMANN https://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/jaktar-jaktar
Jak Tar is a free/ improv jazz album that slips ‘n’ slides between fierily intense, angularly detailed, and moodily haunting. The ten-track CD/ digital album really is a sonic trip in the best possible way- keeping you nicely on your toes throughout. The album was released by UK’s Discus Music in the early summer of this year. The CD comes presented in a glossy mini gatefold- this is a four-panel affair, which features vibrantly coloured paintings of figures in fantasy landscapes, which rather brought to mind a cruder version of William Blakes’s work. The players here are Paul Hession – drums, cymbals and gongs, Michael Bardon – double bass, and Christophe de Bézenac – tenor saxophone. The ten featured tracks have runtimes between one and nearly eight minutes, and clearly, there was both care & thought went into each for both their impact and varied approach/ mood. We open with the wonderful intensely bounding and fiery “Mitch Bryan” which brings together tight bounding double bass lines, baying-to-screaming sax, and detailly tumbling ‘n’ snapping percussion. As we move on have the fluttering, honking, and twitching almost ethnic picks of “Forn Valour”. There’s the tonally scaping ‘n’ tight ruffing meets breathy horn alien-ness of “Mongo Grave” which rather brought to mind the giant orifice fluttering beetle in Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch. With the album playing out stretched out forking to droning haunted moodiness of “Carn Delk”, which sits somewhere between smoky and broodingly ethnic. Jak Tar is an impressively tooled, skilfully executed and wholly varied free jazz record. I’d most certainly like to hear more from this three-piece again – Roger Batty, MUSIQUE MASCHINE, https://www.musiquemachine.com/reviews/reviews_template.php?id=9427
JAKTAR demonstriert mit JakTar (DISCUS 136CD) dann wieder, ganz ohne Worte endlos beredt, the Art of the Trio, mit Michael Bardon (Sean Noonan’s Zappanation, Martin Archer Trio) am Kontrabass, Christophe de Bézenac (trio VD) am Tenorsaxofon und Paul Hession an Drums, Cymbals & Gongs. Der ist mit Jg. 1956 einer der profilierten Köpfe der Jazzszene in Leeds, eng verbunden gewesen mit Simon H. Fell und, nicht nur in Something Else und Shkrang!, auch mit Mick Beck. Sie nennen, was sie da mit rauer Tatze und Rosshaaren, unbändiger Feuerzunge und Poltergeist umeinander fetzen, ‘hans kru’, ‘mongo grave’, knotskar’, ‘carn delk’ – ich könnt’s nicht treffender beschreiben. Neben ihrem ESP- und Impulse-Erbe haben sie launige Bruitismen auf Lager, weißclownige oder ostinat grobe Bogenstriche, animalisches oder spuckiges Genuckel, nickeliges Getickel, flattrige Kürzel, plörrende Stöße, paukige Wirbel, schäbiges Flageolett. Der Franzose als Temperamentsbolzen, dem stöhnend oder himmelschreiend der Mund überschießt, die beiden Briten mit Punch & Judy-Punch und alle drei mit dem Gusto für selbstironische Eklektizismen und kuriose Mätzchen. Curious antics, absolut, bis hin zu summenden, krähenden, donnrig rollenden Dauertönen, die mit elegischem Beigeschmack ausklingen. Illustriert mit einem Exzerpt aus ‘Tremo di gioia’, einem Pathos-Painting von Iris Terdjiman, die in Brüssel Basquiat mit Schlockmaster quadriert. – Rigobert Dittmann, BAD ALCHEMY
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