Review / Description
Without question, no other band in the jazz field is nearly as adept as Taksim in working with compound rhythmic meters, which other advanced players have just begun to explore. Each pattern has its roots in Near Eastern folk dance and gets a full ensemble exploration by Taksim, in contrast to attempts by some jazz players to adopt such rhythms for short rehearsed sections, only to lapse into 4/4 for their improvisations. Odd meters have never kept live audiences from responding to the urge to dance when Taksim plays.
Souren “Sudan” Baronian, reedman/percussionist extraordinaire, is the “Prez” of Armenian-American musicians. His playing and his writing are a true synthesis of jazz and authentic Near Eastern music, born of his intensive experience in both areas. On the ethnic side, he trained with the renowned Turkish master Safet Gundeger, and on the jazz side with the legendary Lennie Tristano. He recorded with such jazz lights as Phil Woods Don Cherry, Joe Beck, Arnie Lawrence, Carla Bley, Paul Motian, Joe Farrell, Steve Gadd, Armen Donelian and others, while continuing to lead ethnic ensembles in performance and on recordings.
Haig Manoukian was in at the birth of Taksim, and is a fitting match for Souren. The oud is his life, and his virtuosity and fluency in improvisation continue to set the pace for oudists everywhere. During part of each year he and Souren travel the world together, playing and teaching as they go.
Steve Knight has been Taksim’s bassist since the beginning. He is known for performing and recording on many instruments, in many styles from New Orleans to rock. An early interest in Near Eastern traditions prompted him to pioneer the use of the electric bass in those idioms.
Lee Baronian is Souren’s son; he could have had no better grounding for the masterful technique and musical aware ness he brings to the dumbek and other percussion instruments. He has a virtuosic young group of his own called Charged Particles, the next chapter in the meeting of East and West.
Mal Stein has mastered the complexities of compound meters like no other drummer; his command of that specialty defines the state of the art today. He grew up in the company of jazz greats, his father Richard having been himself both a drummer and a jazz-club entrepreneur. When not powering up Taksim, Mal is very active on the New York musical scene.