Tal Wilkenfeld: Serendipity
Tal Wilkenfeld (bass)
Transformation (Tal TAL 001)
Tal Wilkenfeld (bass),
Seamus Blake (tenor sax), Geoffrey Keezer (piano), Keith Carlock (drums).
Composed by Tal Wilkenfeld.
Recorded: New York, May 2006
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
The world just isn't fair sometimes. You want to become a great musician. You spend years learning and developing a style. You pour your heart and soul into it. Every waking and sleeping moment is spent breathing music. After a decade or two, you become an OK player. But over that time you have wisely determined that you will never be good enough to make a living playing music no matter how much luck found its way to you. So you hum tunes on your delivery route every day and pick up your axe every now and then wondering what may have been if you only had the extra talent needed.
Meantime, in Australia there is this 16-year-old musician who plays the guitar so well that she quits high school and comes to America to become a star. Here only a short while, she realizes there are too many guitar players. So at 18 she switches to bass. Faster than you can say "Koala," she finds herself playing with some of the world's greatest musicians, including Chick Corea, Jeff Beck and the Allman Brothers! Now, at only 21, she releases her first CD.
This is not to say Tal Wilkenfeld didn't work hard to become great. She did, but she took 20 years less to do it. Certainly she started with a strong belief in herself. Imagine quitting school at 16 and traveling to another country to become a star! And her talent is as outrageous as her self-confidence. One cannot rule out some sort of divine intervention, yet in any case this is talent to be admired and enjoyed. The petty jealousies of failed musicians are unjustified.
Wilkenfeld is more than just an awesome player. "Serendipity," a fine example of her composing skill, is contemporary jazz with a few nods to mid-'80s fusion. Its opening measures sound a bit like The Flecktones, but soon a melody of its own develops, led by Blake. Wilkenfeld's bass playing is a full-throttle attack. She finger-plucks those strings with authority. I can only imagine the calluses. Her bandmates are a great help as they joyously do their comping and take their impressive solo turns. The tune's midsection is especially a showcase for Keezer's piano chops. He turns a few scales inside out over Wikenfeld's and Carlock's locked-in rhythm. But in the end, it is Wilkenfeld who holds her own and the fort down.
Is she going to switch to piano next year? Will we be hearing the saxophonist Tal Wilkenfeld soon? If it weren't all so ridiculously unfair, it would be funny.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky