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Rashied Ali/Peter Kowald/Assif Tsahar: Deals, Ideas & Ideals

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Picture the turbulent, muscular abandon of David S. Ware with better intonation and crisper articulation. That’s Assif Tsahar in a nutshell. Drawing equally from Sonny Rollins and Albert Ayler, the young Israeli tenor titan has become one of the brightest, if under-recognized, new talents on New York’s avant-garde scene. On this brazenly free session, he joins forces with some celebrated elders-drummer Rashied Ali and German bassist Peter Kowald-to continue the urgent momentum borne out of the vital ’70s loft-jazz scene of which Ali was such a prominent part.

On “Isotopes,” Tsahar summons up David Murrayesque power on bass clarinet, blowing heartily and over the full range of that unwieldy instrument with wide-open abandon against Kowald’s virtuosic bowing and Ali’s coloristic percussion. The trio explodes out of the gate on “Freedom Train,” racing ahead on the exhilarating momentum of Rashied’s sizzling ride-cymbal pulse as Tsahar wails authoritatively over the top. Ali’s unaccompanied solo here is also a marvel.

“Hereafter” is a haunting, melancholy ballad in which Tsahar and Kowald engage in subdued conversation as Ali’s brisk brushwork sets a more intimate tone. “Currents,” another bass clarinet vehicle and one of the most heightened excursions on this adventurous outing, is a burst of frantic ideas propelled in a wave of synchronicity, like three frenzied subway riders on the same rush hour train together.

The title track showcases each individual in extended solo settings and the trio closes in dramatic fashion on “Walking Shadows” with Kowald simultaneously bowing and throat-singing an ostinato like a Mongolian Major Holley as Tsahar howls over the top and Rashied softly jingles bells underneath in a near-subliminal reference to Interstellar Space.

This thunderous trio project provides clear evidence that 30-some years after his tenure with John Coltrane, Rashied Ali is still dealing in deep waters.