ASSIF TSAHAR, PETER KOWALD and HAMID DRAKE at NOW Lounge (189 Church), Sunday (September 23). $8. 416-364-1301.
call it free jazz's call for peaceand unity.The new trio of saxophonist Assif Tsahar, bassist Peter Kowald and percussionist Hamid Drake is the kind of feel-good, cross-cultural throwdown that people could use right now.
Tsahar is a New York-based fire-breathing horn player originally from Israel who incorporates elements of his musical background into his intense assault. Kowald is from Germany and has played with a staggering number of the world's improvising elite, including Rashied Ali, David S. Ware, Charles Gayle and Louis Moholo. Drake is the perpetually smiling beat boss from Chicago who's latest recording, a duet with bassist William Parker, is about to be remixed into a series of club-friendly jams. He's also a Muslim. Just imagine the political discussions that go on in the van between gigs.
The trio are scheduled to play at the NOW Lounge Sunday , though Drake couldn't get through the border on September 16, so call ahead for confirmation.
"We've all known each other for a while, but the first gigs we did together were in Israel," Tsahar explains from Brooklyn. "Those shows were really heavy, but everyone was really positive.
"We're a peace band, and people seem to respond positively to that. Right now, especially in New York, this is something people need."
Beyond the cultural clash, the trio also offer something unique musically to the squeal and squawk of the free jazz scene.
Each of the musicians brings something different to the table beyond his skill as an improviser, from Kowald's film and television work to Drake's love of soul, reggae and deep funk.
"I think we're more than just a jazz band," Tsahar confirms. "We all play music from all over the world and are really open about bringing that to this group.
"Hamid plays frame drums and brings rhythms from the reggae bands he used to play in. Peter also does amazing throat singing and has a real awareness of music from around the world, and I have my roots in Jewish music. The shared improvising and respect for the jazz tradition bring us together, but the differences are what really set us apart."