Ravish Momin’s Trio Tarana – Miren (A Longing) (CF 087)
Charting the progress of an improvising artist is always a pleasure, particularly when the strides made span significant distance. I’ve been following percussionist Ravish Momin’s work since his tenure in saxophonist Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre’s comeback trio, The Light. Momin’s merger of Indian and jazz rhythms in that context was an occasional wobbly fit, particularly in tandem with Jesse Dulman’s well-meaning but often lugubrious tuba. McIntyre’s sometimes mealy-mouthed reed work didn’t help in this regard either Soon after that association’s dissolution, Momin changed gears with Trio Tarana, an ensemble combining his ethnically informed percussion with two sets of strings. A pair of personnel changes underscores this second studio outing with violinist Sam Bardfield replacing the departed Jason Hwang and oudist Brandon Terzic occupying Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz’s stead.
The three players work from a resilient foundation of rhythm and melody that manages to sound at once Bedouin antique and dance boutique new. Bardfield bows his strings sans amplification sounding at times like a more measured cousin to Billy Bang and digging deep into Momin’s Middle Eastern influenced tune structures. Terzic combines the poise and dexterity of Hamza Al Din with a Western-inclusive attitude akin to Anouar Brahem, threading slivers of blues and funk into his more fevered string bending and sounding remarkably self-assured. Momin also upholds a strong affinity for hard grooves that breathe and undulate through a multiplicity of meters.
The opening piece pivots on backbeat-anchored rhythm over which Terzic and Bardfield grapple atop. Several pieces follow a pattern of somber preamble followed by spirited collective leap into undulating beats and Arabic scales. Terzic also draws on Asian influences, his oud adopting a brittle koto facsimile on the title piece. Violist Tanya Kalmanovitch bolsters the string section on a second version of “Fiza” another Arabic dirge peppered with resonating suspensions and rosin-igniting interludes. Places still arise where Momin’s ideations seem to eclipse his technique, particularly in the balancing acts that arise out of juxtaposing “in the pocket” playing with the complex meters drawn from African and Indian sources. The brave brinksmanship evident even when he falters suggests a creative artist fully intent on pushing himself inexorably forward.