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CD Review: Zen Tarr

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Zen Tarr finds the rhythm section of the badass horn band Mad Satta forgoing vocals, groove, functional harmony, and form generally, joining the credentialed experimental Rosendale violinist Richard Carr (father of Mad Satta bassist/musical director Ben Carr) for 11 improvised excursions. Actually, the liner notes disclose, there was only one: a single interaction undertaken with "no preconceived ideas" that was mined for its moments of coherence and spontaneous form after the fact and assigned the titles of "Medium Tedium" (modal noir), "Reprieve" (pretty space), and "Half a Sliff" (a percolating pattern study). Drummer Zane West teases with grooves, but they never gain much traction before the pulse retreats to the primordial zone of possibility. Bassist Ben Carr seems the most committed to pattern here, often serving his mates un-bass-like ostinatos to position themselves in relation to. Guitarist Ted Morcaldi employs a rockish tone and attack, a contrast to Richard Carr's lithe and looped violin microcompositions. Much of Zen Tarr's atmosphere derives from effects—multiple delay lines chattering most times. "Free" denotes the absence of preexisting forms and changes; it also implies a stylistic clean slate in which genre gestures and dialects are frowned upon, because "free music" is "first music." And yet "free" is its own school of genres as well, with traditions and rules of engagement. Zen Tarr falls between free modal jazz (without ever sounding jazzy) and the kind of textural jams often made by and for visual artists. Cdbaby.com/cd/zentarr.

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