Time's Tales

Time's Tales

After backing countless other musicians, first-call drummer Jeff Ballard makes his long-overdue debut as a leader on Time’s Tales. Chemistry is generally a combination of unique players, and this album is no different. While the versatile Ballard sounds like he’s playing a different drumset on each song, Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke and Puerto Rico–born saxophonist Miguel Zenon both bring their roots into their sound. Loueke is particularly notable here, using a variety of techniques and textures while also playing some of his prettiest lines ever (check him out on the trio’s loving cover of “Man I Love”). Often the melodic key, Zenon is highlighted on Silvio Rodriguez’s bolero “El Reperador de Sueños,” which uses the original’s Cuban rhythms as a launchpad for the saxophonist. Ranging far and wide, the trio even do a thrashy take on Queens of the Stone Age’s “Hangin’ Tree,” which is as brilliant as it is surprising. “Western Wren” is actually based on a transcription of the bird’s call. This is most definitely an exciting and ambitious debut.

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