Lew Tabackin: Rites of Pan


Rites of Pan


Lew Tabackin (flute)


Rites of Pan (Inner City/Music Minus One 6052)

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Lew Tabackin (flute), Shelly Manne (drums).

Composed by Lew Tabackin and Shelly Manne


Recorded: Hollywood, CA, Sept. 1977 & Feb. 1978


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Tabackin's Rites of Pan album has just been reissued on CD for the first time. On this early all-flute program, Tabackin proved without a doubt that he should be considered as one of the finest flutists in jazz history. Having majored in flute at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, by the '70's he was the kinetic main soloist on both flute and tenor in the big band he co-led with his wife, Toshiko Akiyoshi. Tabackin by then thought of the flute and tenor as his dual primary instruments, and the contrast between his styles on the two instruments is frequently breathtaking. His key influences on tenor are clearly Sonny Rollins, Don Byas, and Ben Webster, while on flute the flavor of Asian classical music as might be played on the shakuhachi is often most prominent.

The title track, "Rites of Pan," is an astonishing spontaneously improvised dialogue between Tabackin's flute and the always unflappable and infinitely flexible veteran drummer Shelly Manne. "It turned out to be a pagan kind of thing," said Tabackin after the session. Except during a briefly more lyrical and subdued middle section, Tabackin's playing is tempestuous and verging on obsessed, utilizing various tonal, tonguing, and breath control techniques to fully express himself. As is usual with Tabackin on either flute or tenor, there is structure and logic in even his most impromptu sounding flights of fancy. Trills, birdlike effects, staccato bursts, fluttering ovetones, riffs, and attractive motifs appear in a dazzling, unending stream. Manne interacts with Tabackin exclusively through vigorous, rumbling, mallet-intoned rubato patterns, only occasionally colored by gentler cymbal splashes. A unique and exceptional track well worth hearing.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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