Dal (A Rhythm Song)
Label: Okeh/Sony Masterworks
Adventurous and hard-swinging! Drummer Ballard attracts ace support here, from guitarist Lionel Loueke and saxophonist Miguel Zenon. (Who needs a bass when you've got these two?) Loueke wrote the opener—and adds some West African vocalizing—but it's the trio's interplay that wins you over. The drummer's "Beat Street" is another highlight. And, once they've covered Queens of the Stone Age ("Hanging Tree") and Béla Bartók ("Dal"), they figure they've earned a free-improv session to close out this album. This is the best of the first batch of new titles from the relaunched OKeh label.