Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Overdue Ovation for Lew Tabackin

Virtuosity, longevity, productivity

Lew Tabackin at the 2010 Telluride Jazz Celebration
Lew Tabackin

At the album release show for Soundscapes, his first disc as a leader in five years, the 75-year-old tenor saxophonist and flutist Lew Tabackin peppered his spry rendering of “Afternoon in Paris” with references to Ellington’s “Rockin’ in Rhythm”-a defiant riposte to the mass shooting of Nov. 13. “It was kind of appropriate to play something in relation to Paris,” Tabackin told the crowd gathered at Club Bonafide, on 52nd Street in New York.

Fronting his longtime trio-drummer Mark Taylor has been a member since 1982; and bassist Boris Kozlov, of the Mingus Big Band, has toured with Tabackin since 2000-Tabackin demonstrated that his prodigious hard-bop acumen is still intact, as is his full-bodied tenor sound. On flute, his personality is more Pan-like, leavened by the judicious use of vibrato or growling to drape a narrative around the changes. On this night, that meant an East-meets-West tale enlivened by liberal quotes from “Love for Sale,” “Moonlight Serenade” and the Noh theatre, and interweaving Ellington’s “Sunset and the Mockingbird” with as many Bird-like lines as he could muster. In the audience was pianist, bandleader and NEA Jazz Master Toshiko Akiyoshi, Tabackin’s musical partner and wife of nearly 50 years, who had just flown in from Japan.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published