Tal Wilkenfeld: Serendipity





Transformation (Tal TAL 001)

Buy Track


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

Tags: · ·

  • 1 Rick // May 27, 2008 at 12:32 AM
    Hey Walter. Sure you can be pissed off at someone having supreme talent. But then you got to let it go. Instead of looking outside of yourself at another's destiny/path look inside to see what area of life you excel at. So you might not get to play with Chick, hey at least your safe from his pushing Scientology onto you! Hey maybe you don't get to excel at music at all. Maybe it's writing heartfelt reviews that you are so good at.
  • 2 mark // Aug 28, 2008 at 12:08 AM
    would like to see her in concert, but she seems to be taking some time off.she is very,very, good..
  • 3 bob // Oct 27, 2008 at 10:05 PM
    There are so many stories of people like this, natural talent out of the blue.. but so often, you find out that they happen to have some very focused parents who were also musicians. Which is a big difference from the parent of one musician I know whose hard-up parents burnt his instruments to try stop him. And that while they picked up x instrument at such an age, they omit to mention another instrument they played for 10 years previously. (I've lost count of the number of musicians I've found out in this particular ploy). Emm, I don't know in this case as they're are always exceptions..
  • 4 Thomas Gerber MD // Oct 30, 2008 at 03:04 PM
    Funny, everybody seems to hear something else in the opening bars of Serendipity. When I first heard it on a clip on YouTube, it sounded so much like "Uniquity Road" from Pat Metheny's "Bright Size Life" that I thought hers was a cover version. A bit too close for comfort. No question, she's talented as a bass player beyond belief. There's also Esparanza Spalding to watch, though her style is *very* different.