"Rahwana" kicks off the album and is -- like all the songs on the recording -- composed, arranged and produced by Tohpati himself. The track opens appropriately with a tribal chant (more like a tribal scat) but shifts to a blistering guitar as the tandem of Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets, Allan Holdsworth) on bass and Chad Wackerman (Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth) on drums kick in at high gear in complete harmony and compliment with Tohpati.
It is fast and furious, grinding and gritty then lusciously transitions to a flowing, harmonic stream of beauty before refreshing the grind. Marvelous distortion heralds the arrival of some exquisite guitar atop one of the best rhythm sections anywhere in the world. It's been said that only Wackerman and Terry Bozzio could successfully impress Frank Zappa on some of his most demanding writings. And Haslip can hang with anybody.
"Spirit of Java" follows with Wackerman's slow-paced introduction before Tohpati and Haslip jump in with what must described as Fripp meets Bartok. A hot Funk-Jazz section follows with some of the swetest syncopated drum and bass passages you ever want to hear.
"Tribal Dance" opens with that very thing--a tribal dance. Tohpati, Haslip and Wackerman join in with their wrecking-ball fusion while making room for moments of utter melodic fascination. The virtuosity of the trio never supersedes the melody or the groove. Haslip's solo near the end of the track is a fretless stunner.
"Savana" is, at 1:56, the shortest track on the whole album. The delicacy of the sound is like the beautiful work associated with Hristo Vitchev and Pat Metheny. A sweet interlude.
"Run", on the other hand, is just hot. Tohpati's strum-pattern smokes up against Haslip's Funk-riddled swing. Wackerman simply takes your breath away. Tohpati scratches the R&B as Haslip rolls the bass solo. This must have been a blast to record because it is such a blast to hear.
That same fun continues into the opening of "Supernatural" with it's Jackie Gleason-like groan of a chant. Then comes the Zappa-esque precise punch that lands the listener flat on their back. It is a disciplined and well-organized riot of a piece. Listen to it 3-4 times to really hear what the group, and then each of the three musicians, submit for your approval. Yeah, it's a Twilight Zone.
The album closes with "Midnight Rain." It is a moving piece of blues guitar over an ambient background. It is a long farewell until next time. Almost mournful, it is certainly emotional.
"Tribal Dance" is a work of compositional craftsmanship, performance virtuosity, melodic integrity and rhtyhmic intensity. Tohpati has ascended the platform for a seat at the high table of Progressive Jazz. His conspiracy with Haslip and Wackerman has created a triumvirate to threaten the established order of the music world.
Visit Tohpati's web site at:http://www.tohpati-music.com/
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Purchase "Tribal Dance" here.