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TAL WILKENFELD

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Australia


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Tal Wilkenfeld biography
Tal Wilkenfeld, who has gained notoriety mostly for her astounding bass work with Jeff Beck and his band, grew up in Sydney Australia. Her early love for music brought her to Los Angeles in her teens to study guitar. It was when she switched to bass that she discovered her true talent, and was soon performing with stars such as Hiram Bullock, Susan Tedeschi, and the Allman Brothers Band, among many others.

In 2006 she formed her own band, which featured Wayne Krantz, Geoff Keezer, Keith Carlock and Seamus Blake. They released their first album in 2007. Since then, Wilkenfeld has gone on to perform with the above mentioned Beck, Chick Corea,Herbie Hancock, and even Jimmy Page and David Gilmour.

At such a young age, and already showing so much talent and ability, Tal Wilkenfeld appears to be poised to become one of the preeminent fusion bass players for quite some time.

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TAL WILKENFELD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.42 | 3 ratings
Transformation
2007
4.00 | 23 ratings
Love Remains
2019

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TAL WILKENFELD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Love Remains by WILKENFELD, TAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.00 | 23 ratings

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Love Remains
Tal Wilkenfeld Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The name 'Tal Wilkenfeld' is one that's been bubbling beneath the surface of popular music culture for a long time. Amidst all the praise for her skills and the criticism for her supposed status as an industry plant, there remains the fact that she's still what you'd call a 'musician's musician.' She's played with some of the best talents in the medium, ranging from Chick Corea to Herbie Hancock to Jeff Beck. But what's a bit puzzling is the relative absence of any solo recordings by Ms. Wilkenfeld. She recorded a jazz album in 2007, and then' well, nothing else. And while it was a solid record that put her bass work front-and-center, it didn't really leave enough of an impact to let her emerge from the role of being a sideman.

But I think that might all change this year. Starting in 2016 with the new single 'Corner Painter,' it was clear that we were witnessing a real transformation. A singer-songwriter was now emerging; armed with a booming acoustic bass and a commanding voice, Wilkenfeld came back with a very different sound than before. And before we could get a grasp on what was going on, she was now opening up for The Who and using completely different setlists than back in her jazz fusion days. Who knew she was such a good singer and songwriter on top of her bass skills? Still, nothing could prepare her fans for the 2019 bombshell that goes by the name of Love Remains.

So what does Love Remains sound like" Well, imagine if Joni Mitchell, Jaco Pastorious, Phoebe Bridgers, and 2010s Steven Wilson had a love child. The album is a beautiful mix of indie rock, progressive rock, folk, and jazz, yet it still manages to retain a clear razor-sharp vision throughout its runtime. The aforementioned 'Corner Painter' is the song that opens it up, and it really is a great way to foreshadow everything else. The heavy guitars and expressive vocals are there, and yet some of that folk-driven balladry rears its head to give us some contrast. And that illustrates the dichotomy we hear on Love Remains as a whole: heavy alternative rockers and lovely folk ballads. There are a few instances - such as the Phoebe Bridgers-esque title track or 'Counterfeit' - where the two collide a bit as well. But for the most part, this album demonstrates how far Wilkenfeld can reach with her influences and alternating styles.

What's more impressive is how she tends to let the music speak for itself. Her vocals and lyrics are great, but what really makes these songs shine is her talent for letting songs naturally unfold. It's like any great TV show, where characters are shaped by their environments and events instead of the other way around. 'One Thing After Another' initially seems like just a sweet little acoustic ballad, but suddenly blooms into something much grander once the clarinets and flutes emerge halfway in. It sounds like something you'd hear on Pet Sounds. 'Under the Sun' is a song that's entirely shaped by the psychedelic sunset vibes it constantly exudes; the more Wilkenfeld can bend these atmospheres to her will, the more we get sucked in when any slight changes occur in the music. Even more interesting is the sparse 'Haunted Love,' which is entirely driven by just vocals and bass. But with Wilkenfeld's mastery of the bass as both a rhythmic and melodic instrument, she managed to craft a 6-minute ballad that never gets boring because of its natural ebb and flow. A few backing vocals and string effects help too, of course.

In all of this, there's a ton of emotional weight that goes into the tracks. Most of the songs deal with typical topics like love and loss, but they're explored with a complexity that puts them above many other love songs you'd normally hear. 'One Thing After Another' is the most compelling example, as the tune details a relationship in its entirety as the woodwind instruments mirror each emotional peak and valley perfectly. 'Pieces of Me' is another standout, as it talks about someone who only loves the narrator for certain things, picking and choosing what they like instead of being able to appreciate the whole picture. And really, 'whole picture' is what I'd use to describe Love Remains. It's hard to find an album this complete and wholly satisfying on all fronts. Tal Wilkenfeld was able to take all the influences and sounds she's absorbed over the years as a sideman and rearrange them into one beautiful portrait of herself. The only thing that worries me is the prospect that she might end up peaking too early, because it's hard for me to imagine how she'd top this.

 Transformation by WILKENFELD, TAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
2.42 | 3 ratings

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Transformation
Tal Wilkenfeld Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Argonaught

2 stars Some of Ms. Wilkenfeld's fans may feel indignation about her being judged by the strict jazz fusion standards, but since Transformation was listed on Progarchives in the Jazz Fusion section, such judgment would be appropriate and fair, wouldn't it?

Some folks involuntarily tend to cut the "young newcomers" some slack upon seeing something in their debut effort that looks promising. In the case of Ms. W, that hasn't come to pass - it's been 6 or 7 years since the Transformation, and her sophomore album hasn't materialized. And if/when it does, I sincerely hope she won't be singing on it :)

To go back to the subject:

The only title in the jazz fusion vein here is Serendipity; much of the remainder is more of the lightweight jazz-bluesy pop. The kind of you'd be hearing in the background while dining in an upscale restaurant. Safe, smooth and bland.

The musicianship is adequate across the board .. no blunders .. no surprises .. no excitement .. some steady-handed, bread and butter professional studio work. A couple of pleasant passages here and there. Period.

There is one peculiar thing about The Transformations that acts like a sort of a safety pressure release valve. It's so hopelessly bland that listening to it bores me into stupor well before it could sufficiently irritate me to log into the PA and leave a one-star review.

Two stars therefore :)

Thanks to evolver for the artist addition.

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