Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tom Tallitsch: Heads Or Tales

Tom Tallitsch (sax)
Heads Or Tales (Posi-Tone Records; 2012)
Dave Allen (guitar)
Mark Ferber (drums)
Jared Gold (organ)

You know those albums that you fall in love with immediately after about two songs in--well this one of those albums. Tom Tallitsch delivers a killer does on hard bop that is fueled by both some heavy chops as well as crisp songwriting. His fourth album (first for Posi-Tone), Heads Or Tales is simply an awesome display of muscle and dynamics.

Like a late night jam session, Heads Or Tales kicks off in fine form with "Coming Around," a real barn-burner. Tallitsch rips through a number of chords and his newly assembled quartet adds fuel to the fire with Allen and Gold sparking hot exchanges that match the saxophonist's muscle.

The luscious ballad, "Perry's Place," is absorbing. Tallitsch gives a deep soulful performance that instantly grabs you. Gold's organ stays close with a rhythm providing strong effect. Feber's drums are tempered here but still add soft touches just under the melody.

"Travel Companion" is a well paced midtempo piece in which Tallitsch allows Gold and Allen to show-off some solid individuality. Tallitsch comes back in to bring the band home with some warm tones as closing notes.

"Dunes" moves along swiftly and sweetly. Ferber conjures up some nice patterns that rise and fall alongside Tallitsch rhythms. Allen lays down some chords that felt almost early George Benson-esque. For some reason I kept gravitating back to this track. There's something quietly entrancing and beautiful about the harmonies that you might find as well.

Closing out on Neil Young's "Don't Let Bring You Down" is pretty brave. And you almost don't recognize it until you get to the chorus. This introspective ballad gets a heavy treatment that ends up being more surprising than you would originally imagine. It's treated with care but still creating its own identity.

Heads Or Tales is more than just another solid session for Tom Tallitsch. It's a document that really should awaken the eyes and ears of many would need to know his name and his skill as a composer and musician. 

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