Zakir Hussain has done it again. The tabla master – among the great living musicians – has form in helping make unlikely jazz trios work brilliantly, including 2006’s Sangam with saxophonist Charles Lloyd and drummer Eric Harland. Here his fingerprints are all over an enthralling dialogue he shares with bassist Dave Holland and Holland’s one-time saxophonist Chris Potter. The tabla makes a striking difference to every aspect of the way the music unfolds. One example is that even the most melodious jazz drummers – Jack DeJohnette, Ed Blackwell or Max Roach, say – could not weave this level of melodic content into the grooves.
Another is that, in the absence of cymbals, the overtones and nuances of timbre from Potter’s tenor and soprano are heard much more nakedly. The tabla’s presence also narrows the dynamics to a chamber-jazz range, yet without shrinking the collective energy in the least. Holland gives the grooves his trademark supercharged propulsion and startling embellishments, and Potter, meanwhile, turns in his finest work in terms of both invention and profundity since his time with Paul Motian. The recording quality will flatter your sound system, too.