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Ananda Gari: T-Duality

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Since the 1980s, alto saxophonist Tim Berne has been a primary operator in that fertile jazz zone where “in” crosses over into “out.” His discography as a leader is wide and deep, including two acclaimed recent releases on the ECM label. T-Duality is interesting for, among many other reasons, the opportunity to hear Berne as a sideman, supporting someone else’s project.

Ananda Gari is a young Italian drummer, composer and conceptualist. He makes wise choices in collaborators. The other members of this quartet are guitarist Rez Abbasi and bassist Michael Formanek.

Berne has never sounded more committed or more versatile. “Trucks” starts as a tight, tilting proclamation but, like most Gari pieces, it quickly opens out. Berne’s first pass is a wild, croaking set of expletives over a single-note guitar drone that Abbasi carries over from the head. Then Berne unexpectedly evens out into protracted, yearning, almost smooth calls. Abbasi casts an intriguing solo made from quick, fidgeting forays, in waves. When Berne comes back he resumes his plaintive calls, but they soon splinter.

Gari tunes are stark, volatile atoms of energy. Abbasi and Berne take long, involved, looping, relatively rational solos on “Never Late.” But Berne’s version of beauty always contains some lethal jagged edges. Abbasi, not Berne, is the one who eventually explodes “Never Late.” With this band all songs must explode. Formanek and Gari define the atmosphere of “Fields,” Formanek with his widely spaced plucked portents and eventual

far-flung solo, Gari with the patient, gradual intensification of his

clattering.

In his debut as a leader, Gari has claimed cred as a counterintuitive drummer in the broad Paul Motian tradition, and provided creative contexts that guide and inspire heavy-duty players (older and better known than himself) to out-do themselves.

Originally Published