Alt Tal
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Alt Tal

San Francisco, California, United States

San Francisco, California, United States
Band Jazz Avant-garde


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"Tricky time signatures and no pretense to anything"

An outright jazz album with great playing, tricky time signatures and no pretense to anything.

The trio of David Alt, Kenny Annis and Andrew Ryan really deliver an intense 11-track work here that features all new material and it is one of the best new Jazz albums we have heard in a while.

(April 2009) -

"Ideas are fresh and unpredictable"

Open The Gates! features 11 of Alt's originals which range from blues to freer material.

David Alt's playing sometimes recalls that of Steve Lacy and (tone wise on alto) Anthony Braxton but his ideas are fresh and unpredictable. His thoughtful improvisations are consistently relaxed, even in the more heated sections, and have their own logic. To an extent he has created his own musical vocabulary.

The music is well played, colorful, and well worth exploring.

(March 2009) - Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene

"In control of their sonic destiny"

Alt Tal's Open The Gates! is the sound of a fierce jazz trio who are in control of their sonic destiny.

These guys play a mixture of bebop, funk, soul, and whatever complex jazz terms you may have that describes the fluidity of imagination that happened between the 1950's and 1970's. They flow from styles to eras without a problem, smoothly as if everyone else has been doing this normally, but it's not abstract or out of the ordinary despite my description of it.

Alt's solos tell the story, each described in lyrical form in the booklet even though none of the songs feature any singing, so you hear songs of closure (Mark Time), political struggle (Mossad), making tea (Jasmine), along with lovers and friends that have come and gone.

Within that you hear some incredible playing, and the rhythm section of Annis and Ryan will definitely make you look out for these two either as individuals or as a duo, because I could hear them backing a lot of musicians up, or perhaps they become the leaders of other more perfect unions.

The musicianship is very elaborate, as they play direct and to the point, occasionally drifting into a bit of freedom before falling back into the theme of the song, and I could easily see them moving crowds into a frenzy with their playing.

(May 2009) - John Book, The Run-Off Groove

"Totally inspired"

Offbeat modern jazz from the acoustic jazz trio consisting of David Alt, Kenny Annis, and Andrew Ryan. While all three are serious musicians (each actually studied and/or majored in music), the tracks on Open the Gates! don't have that stuffy, pretentious sound that can sometimes be associated with serious musicians.

Rather and instead, the tracks on this album come across sounding spontaneous and totally inspired.

Of course, with modern jazz most folks either love it or hate it. We tend to be fence sitters...unless we get the impression that the people are making music for the right reasons. In such particular cases, we can get a major jolt out of this genre.

Gates! does what it is intended to do...entertain while allowing the players to inject their music with their own ideas and personalities. The playing is fluid and unpredictable...and the sound quality is impeccable. Eleven tracks here including "Mossad," "News From Milan," "Catch Me," and "Elaine." Rather neat sounding stuff...

(May 2009) - LMNOP Magazine, LMNOP.COM

"It's not noize and it's not mainstream"

Sax led jazzbo rockers explore their downtown skronk side on this acoustic set that lets them play head music, the kind that used to power the all night show on college radio in the 70s.

It's not noize and it's not mainstream.

It's nice jazz for those that like to think as they listen.

(April 2009) -, Vol 32/No 160

"Sonic vistas you haven't heard before"

Here's a refreshing sound... basic sax, bass & drum trio that flawlessly improvises 11 all-original Alt compositions in a solid modern jazz performance that will put you in moods both introspective & joyful.

The jumping piece The Nymph is most representative of the playful spirit the title would make you think of... it's track 4, l'Amoureuse de Mon Père, that will take you over the top, perhaps even jumping beyond resolute toe-tappin' to jumping up and dancing a bit... my favorite on the CD, to be sure. On "Amoureuse", the drums seem to propel it, & the bass provides superb counterpoint... David's sax paints a bubbly stream that will make you think of your father, no doubt. If you're favoring the reflective side at the current moment, be sure to check out "Force Of Nature", the tune I thought was the most mellow on the entire album.

The overall impression I had was that this approaches improvised jazz with a decidedly "eastern" flavor, more studied and controlled than other reedists I've listened to who are doing it "from the hip", so to speak.

All in all, very impressive & full of vigor... I rate this one as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz listeners who want to experience an album with many facets–excellent sound quality, high talent and sonic vistas you haven't heard before!

(April 2009)
- Improvijazzation Nation

"A band to be recognized"

This upbeat acoustic jazz trio encompasses engaging improvisations that will draw numerous audiences.

This CD is also capable of opening the gates into the world of jazz for younger generations with the use of an admirable modern jazz approach.

This is a band to be recognized.

(March 2009) - Sarah Huenecke, KQAL

"Repeatedly reminded of Jimi Hendrix"

On listening to this album I was repeatedly reminded of Jimi Hendrix and his trio.

Open the Gates contains eleven tracks, most of them with tight rhythmic foundations and the sax floating stratospherically high above.

(May 2009) - The Borderland, United Kingdom

"These guys rise to the level of "Kind of Blue""

A trio led by saxophonist David Alt (who wrote all the tunes) with Kenny Annis (bass) and Andrew Ryan (drums).

They range from the walking bass bop of "Elaine" to the Five Elements-sounding "Mossad," and the band brings the same vibrancy to every style, often giving the impression that more than three instruments are playing ("Jasmine").

I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again: it's easy to attempt Kind Of Blue-style open landscapes but tough to pull it off, and at times these guys rise to that level (the languid, vaguely Middle Eastern "Seven O'Clock Tune").

(April 2009) - The Wilson and Alroy Record Report


- Open the Gates!
- DEMOlish the Wall
- tri



Alt Tal is a hard-hitting acoustic jazz trio, whose latest CD features memorable melodies and arresting compositions.

Based in the vibrant San Franciso Bay Area, their influences range from Johnny Hodges to Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane to Steve Lacy, as well as Hindustani (Indian classical).


"During my first decade of composing, I kept increasing the size and complexity of the ensembles for which I wrote. I lived on the East coast, and had a great wealth of exposure to classical and schooled Jazz players who liked to read my work—from big band charts to contemporary orchestra compositions.

However, when I moved to SF, it took me about a year to figure out who to play with. People don't follow the same kind of traditions on the West coast. Here, it is less about leaning on particular genres, than it is about bringing something new to the table. Musicians, audiences and venues are much more fluid here in terms of what they will listen to.

So, I played with people studying at the Ali Akbar College of Music, including Kenny Annis, who was studying sarod at the time. Thus, Alt Tal was formed by playing original Jazz with an Indian sensibility of time and scale.

It took another year for us to figure out our instrumentation. On the one hand, our chord-less trio format was imposed by the austerity of life in the real world, where flexibility and logistics often define the success of a continuing project. But I approached this limitation as a challenge: I had to figure out how to play melodically while also presenting the chord structure.

Finally, we called on Andrew Ryan, who we had collaborated with in a whimsical Rock side project (Little Effie's Head, Andy made the band more hard-hitting, and we shed some of our overt Hindustani references in favor of a more powerful, demanding approach. Around that time, I started playing Soprano Saxophone and new material followed. After another year, we were comfortable with this approach and took it to the studio.

All the while we've been playing, gigging and learning more. Much has changed since then—like Kenny has been playing upright—and I decided this project was worth sharing. So, we re-mixed a few songs, mastered it and voila here it is."