Alt Tal:


Home    Audio    The Band
Gigs    Past Gigs
Alt Tal on    ...  MySpace
...  Facebook
...  iLike
After several outings at Cafe Van Kleef, we have honed in on the material that works well and are looking forward to our next performance there.

We'll feature songs from our CD, Open the Gates!, unrecorded originals and our favorite cache of mildly obscure covers.

Bike Lanes

The lyrics say it all:
Bike lanes
all the way down Howard St.
to Fremont St.
It is a hard-swinging surruptitiously infectious ditty.

Force of Nature

A favorite opener that is sultry and bluesy.


The only ballad that appears on Open the Gates!, we like to throw in Frivolity for some well-deserved repose when things get heavy.
It's all a fallen charade.
The way I sit while you cry.

Then call me up for tennis,
which I'll have to move.

Leave me alone
while I process your


Steve Lacy is one of my favorite saxophonists, composers, and interpreters of Thelonious Monk. I transcribed this piece of his from his album The Rent, which features identical instrumentation to Alt Tal. I figured it was time to pay tribute to Steve Lacy by actually presenting one of his works.

Gospel swings way super hard, and has a very open sound since its melody is based on fourths and spans nearly the entire range of the saxophone. The complex head gives way to solos on the standard blues form.

Promises Kept

One of my favorite albums is Sonny Sharrock's Ask the Ages, which features Pharoah Sanders, Elvin Jones and Charnett Moffett. The entire album swings, rocks and grooves like a motherfucker.

I like to think of the first track, Promises Kept, sort of as an example of anthem rock. It almost sounds like a particularly heavy modal tune, except that they do keep the form--most clearly defined by the different feels and hits of each of the three sections.

Mark Time

A catchy melody interpreted thrice. A rare example of a 12-bar form that is not based on a blues. Written for my migrating roommate, Mark Beaver.
They turn away patrons.
I sit, already sated
But weary and tense,
for lack of Cadence.

I wish to Mark Time:
to listen, to sleep.
The night needs closure,
a long-awaited weep.

I must ruch to finish
before loss of grace.
They work in meter
while I set my pace.

l'Amoureuse de mon Père

This song soars, and calls to question. It has no lyrics because it is a frantic, swaying escape from words. The title comes from the appellation used for Patricia, the object of the song, by her partner's five-year-old daughter.


The final track on our CD, Elaine, has quite an ecclectic parantage: it is partAnnie Ross' Twisted, part Ornette Coleman's Turnaround and part Brady Bunch theme!

It is also one of those rare creatures, an 11-bar blues. It's melody cuts a very witty line, and the arrangement an unpredictable course, including a duet between drums and soprano saxophone.

Seven O'Clock Tune

Perhaps the current signature tune of Alt Tal. Its pan-Persian influences allows us to indulge Kenny's Hindustani musicality, which has rubbed off on me to no small extent.

The End of Bebop

We continue to reinvent this number, originally written in 1995, which begins with a Bebop-style melody that begs to be played twice. In a sort of historical acceleration, we proceed to incorporate both Modal and Free Jazz approaches. A challenging and vigorous piece you'll be humming throughout the week.


After years of having sights on this tune by John Coltrane, we've finally taken it up. It is sort of a natural for us, given Kenny and my interest in Hindustani music, and my relatively recent adoption of the soprano saxophone and Kenny's more recent adoption of the acoustic bass. Not to mention that we are all die-hard Coltrane fans.

More or less a minimalist modal tune, its atmoshphere derives from rhythmic dominant and subdominant bass pedal harmonics overlaying an insatiable swing.


As you might imagine from the title, Ornette Coleman's Turnaround employs a rather unique turnaround within a 12-bar blues form; it is noticeable both in terms of its anticipated rhythmic placement as well as its roving harmonic content. Another aspect I enjoy of Turnaround is its use of both major and minor mode in the subdominant.

Spring to Mission Hill

Developed as part of a meditation-like bicycle ride that transpired in January in Boston, from one hill to another.

Fables of Faubus

A signature Charles Mingus composition "dedicated to the first or second all- American heel." A favorite from last year, we gave it some space, but find continued enthusiasm for it in our sets this month. View a brief, silhouetted video clip of our performance.

Peggy's Blue Skylight

Another one of our choice few cover tunes. This Charles Mingus composition has a particularly nice melody and challenging but ultimately conventional chord changes. It is juicy and happy but serious all at once.

The Nymph

The provocatively titled "The Nymph" has an urban and somewhat sinister pulse, which could be heard as a stripped-down interpretation of Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy".

The riffing melody spans the entire range of the saxophone, and dissolves into some rather free and characteristic blowing, contrasted with its finish, which is a startling tihi-like coda.


A heavy, armored-bulldozer-demolishing-houses groove that supports valiant and proud melodic resistance:
Decided in the name of God,
they press on
with incompletely thwarted plans, Isabelle.
View a brief, silhouetted video clip of our performance.

Home       Audio       The Band       Gigs       Past Gigs       Song List       MySpace       Facebook       iLike