History of Jazz in Reverse
“From the Waters of New Orleans”
A triumvirate of imaginative jazz vets, the FAB Trio came together on a handful of recordings in the early 2000s that revealed their brilliance and easy camaraderie. Bassist Joe Fonda, drummer Barry Altschul and violinist Billy Bang, all leaders in their own right, had each honed his skills and sensibilities on New York City’s underground jazz scene, individually collaborating with the likes of Frank Lowe, Anthony Braxton, Dave Holland, Sam Rivers, James Blood Ulmer and Dave Douglas, to name a few. In 2005, FAB entered the studio following a European tour, aiming to capture the alchemical bond they’d developed while traveling. The results speak for themselves on 2011’s History of Jazz in Reverse (TUM). Recorded live in the studio, the tracks are improvised, with the exception of Compay Segundo’s “Chan Chan” and Bang’s “One for Don Cherry.” The album’s theme, which views jazz as a nonlinear continuum that doesn’t flow in only one direction, is beautifully realized on “From the Waters of New Orleans,” our selection. The track launches to a second-line beat that conjures the city like no other, with Bang’s piquant strings leading the parade. However, there’s a layer of poignancy to the proceedings, illustrating the richness of a tradition that can be heard in funeral processions as well as Mardi Gras celebrations. Fonda bows a lively arco section, as Bang plucks his strings, almost sounding like a country-blues guitarist, and Altschul maintains the martial cadence. As explained in the album notes, the song “is a dedication to the culture of one of America’s greatest cities and the struggle of its people to survive and to rebuild after the waters rose too high and the levees broke.” While New Orleans lived on, Bang did not; the one-of-a-kind violinist and composer died in April 2011, shortly before the album was released.