Now Then (TAO Forms)

Tani Tabbal

Released November 13, 2020

AllMusic Favorite Jazz Albums 2020




Now Then, by Tani Tabbal Trio, is the vital third release on Tao Forms, and we are honored to present this brand new work from the master drummer-percussionist. Tani Tabbal is known for his extensive performing and recording career with Roscoe Mitchell, Sun Ra, Geri Allen, James Carter, David Murray, and Faruq Z. Bey / Griot Galaxy. Following a series of self-released recordings over the past decade (including two by this trio), Now Then will be his first internationally distributed work as a leader.
Tabbal—who came of age on Detroit’s fertile jazz scene—has always looked for colleagues with fresh ideas, big ears, and adventurous souls. He found them again in veteran bassist Michael Bisio and next generation alto saxophonist Adam Siegel. Now Then is an exceptional album of charismatic communications by three musicians who breathe as one. The compositions—six by Tabbal, four by Bisio—define specific materials and moods that the trio develops with patience and a subtle variety of textures and dynamics. Melodic riches abound, wielded with both controlled fire & giving tenderness, while the joy of prolific communication and illuminated creation permeates the album. It’s a beauty!

Track Listing:

1. Arrested Confusion (Michael Bisio) 04:11

2. Just Woke Up (Tani Tabbal) 08:51

3. Khusenaton (Tani Tabbal) 05:47

4. Sun History Ra Mystery (Michael Bisio) 06:21

5. Now Then (Tani Tabbal) 07:39

6. Midway Open (Tani Tabbal) 06:43

7. Oh See OC Revisited (Michael Bisio) 09:22

8. Scrunch (Tani Tabbal) 05:54

9. r. henri (Michael Bisio) 06:52

10. Inky Bud (Tani Tabbal) 05:55


Tani Tabbal: drums
Michael Bisio: bass
Adam Siegel: alto saxophone

Recorded December 5, 2019, at Park West Studios, Brooklyn

Produced by Tani Tabbal & Michael Bisio

Executive Producer: Whit Dickey

Recorded, Mixed & Mastered by Jim Clouse

Design & original art: Susanna Ronner Graphic Design


A longtime member of saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell’s ensembles, drummer Tani Tabbal is a boundary-pushing musician whose sound draws from forward-thinking artists like Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, and Sun Ra. All three of those performers come to mind when listening to Tabbal’s sixth solo album, 2020’s Now Then. In fact, Tabbal played with Sun Ra’s Arkestra early in his career, and he brings that group’s maverick, interstellar energy to his work with his trio with alto saxophonist Adam Siegel and bassist Michael Bisio. Siegel, the youngest of the three, is a kinetic player with a wiry, probing sound informed by the aforementioned Coleman, as well as nods to Lennie Tristano. He’s joined by Bisio, a Seattle stalwart with deep roots in the avant-garde scene having played with luminaries like Matthew Shipp, Whit Dickey, and Joe McPhee. Together, Tabbal and his bandmates bring all of their like-minded experience to bear on music that threads the needle between compositional chamber jazz and free group improvisation. Cuts like the opening “Arrested Confusion” and the title track are particularly Coleman-esque, with Tabbal’s driving percussion and Bisio’s measured bass riff pushing Siegel towards ever-edgier harmonies. Similarly, on “Sun History Ra Mystery,” the trio draw upon Tabbal’s time as a member of Ra’s Arkestra, as Siegel sprinkles layers of extraterrestrial tonal mist over Tabbal and Bisio’s slowly churning rhythmic moonscape. Other tracks have titles that wryly describe the sounds at play, as on the onomatopoeia of “Scrunch,” in which the trio sound like they are being extruded through a small tube. Equally evocative is “Just Woke Up,” in which Siegel’s stuttering, bleary-eyed phrasing evokes the feeling of being slowly awakened by the sound of a bird. We also get the animated, Carl Stalling-esque “Inky Bud,” and the languid harmonic shadows of the ballad “r. henri.” With Now Then, Tabbal and his trio play with the intensity and radical creativity of a much larger ensemble.

Matt Collar (AllMusic)