Veteran drummer Tani Tabbal's Mixed Motion is a perfect example of jazz's curious place in the 21st century. Tabbal's album is adventurous and uncompromising, consisting almost entirely of original compositions—just the sort of album that a major label would have a hard time selling. Of course, the Internet itself is indirectly responsible for this state of affairs. With production and distribution taken out of the hands of record labels, leaving only promotion to justify their existence, only the most marketable artists get signed. Still, the lack of bean-counting oversight means artistic freedom for Tabbal and company.
The music generated on this album by Tabbal and his band—bassist Lew Scott, alto saxophonist Adam Siegel, and tenor saxophonist Ben Newsome—is impeccably composed and executed. "Thin Mid Fat Mid Thin" is a very challenging piece that might turn off a casual listener, but "March for Gloria," with its subtle interaction between the horns, and "Zycron," which features a superb solo from bassist Lew Scott, are much more accessible. It's appropriate that Tabbal chose to close the album with an achingly beautiful version of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman." Recorded before the master's passing, it nevertheless serves as a fitting tribute, since Coleman's spirit is everywhere on this album. Hopefully, it will find the audience it deserves. Tanitabbal.com.