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Kahi El’Zabarl Trio Factor: The Power

According to The Power’s liner notes, the high-strung triumvirate of percussionist Kahil El’Zabar, violinist Billy Bang and baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett weren’t exactly in accord during the recording sessions; apparently, ego trips often derailed the trio. Although the album illustrates each member’s distinct musical personality, it’s ultimately a disappointing affair that sounds like they’re more in competition than accordance.

There’s an imbalance of sonic power on songs like “Silent Observations” and “Contrary Motion” that finds Bang’s buzzing violin playing David to Bluiett’s gruff Goliath. El’Zabar’s trap and hand drumming, and ponderous grooves on thumb piano, are mostly aimless and monotonous. The trio fares better on softer pieces like “Katon” and “Moment’s Resolution,” though both sound more like ideas than songs.

With so much discussion about the members’ uncompromising egos, you’d think one of them would have suggested keeping The Power in the can.

Originally Published