Reviews that mention Hamid Drake

September 5, 2017

Météo Mulhouse Music Festival

August 22 to August 26, 2017

A consistent French tradition like chewy baguettes, fine Camembert or Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Mulhouse, France’s Météo Festival, now in its 35th year, continues to present exemplary musicians in concert, without the program ever becoming homogeneous. What this means is that while the festival which took place August 22-August 26, was introduced and reached a climax with absorbing and innovative with sets by veteran Imptov saxophonists Evan Parker and Peter Brötzmann, performances which encompassed minimalism, hard-core Free Jazz, electronics, Rock, notated and folkloric music were part of the schedule. MORE

June 19, 2017

Hamid Drake/Sylvain Kassap

Heads or Tails
RogueArt ROG-0072

By Ken Waxman

Facility, rhythm and invention unite in the playing of Chicago’s Hamid Drake, one of the go-to percussionists in improvised music. That’s because Drake is both Clark Kent and Superman: able to power the most extravagant free-blowing ensemble as well as use subtle beats to advance a narrative. At his best in small groups, the drummer is absorbingly paired with a reedist of equal skill on this two-CD set.

Parisian Sylvain Kassap, master of almost every clarinet extant, slides fluidly between playing notated and improvised music, with detours into theatre and electronics. Heads or Tails is illustrative of this duo’s art, with one CD of extended performances and the other 13 studio sessions. Putting quick-change artists to shame, the duo demonstrates faultless command of moods and inferences throughout the second disc. Whether it’s temple-bell-like resonations atop a buzzing reed ostinato on “Everyone Holds Its Breath”; the clarinetist’s agile slide from bagpipe-chanter to flute-like timbres on “Stubborn Old Folks”; Drake craftily shifting drum vibrations from irregular to steady on “Heavy Traffic”; or a piquant duet in near swing rhythm on “Downtown Riots”; singly and together the two are as in-sync as trapeze artists. MORE

January 7, 2017

Festival Report

Jazzdor
By Ken Waxman

Appropriately the mid-point of Festival Jazzdor’s second week was November 11, when ceremonies honor soldiers who died during both world wars. Reflecting music’s universality though, Strasbourg’s Jazzdor presented several concerts in nearby Offenburg, Germany throughout the festival. This is despite the fact that Strasbourg, a French city of unique Alsatian meals and mixed French and German architecture, atmosphere and street signs, is in a region conquered by Germany from 1870-1917 and 1940-1944. MORE

January 7, 2017

The DKVThing Trio

Collider
NotTwo MW 930-2

Arashi

Semikujira

Trost TR 146

By Ken Waxman

Seemingly more ubiquitous than a smart phone, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love appears to be everywhere at once, especially when advanced improvised music is involved. Not only does the percussionist lead his own large unit and smaller aggregations, but he also turns up in groups led by players ranging from Frode Gjerstad to Peter Brötzmann. These recent sessions are particularly notable for a couple of reasons. Semikujira is the newest chapter in the history of an on-again/off-again trio made up of Nilssen-Love, Swedish bassist Johan Berthling and veteran Japanese alto saxophonist/clarinetist Akira Sakata. Ratcheting the intensity level up into the red zone, Collider solders together The Thing, the drummer’s punk-jazz trio with Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten with its U.S. counterpoint, the DKV trio of reedist Ken Vandermark, bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Hamid Drake. MORE

August 6, 2016

Festival Report

Ljubljana Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

Located on both banks of the picturesque Ljubljanica River, Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, is a pleasant city containing, unique historical edifices mostly designed by the city’s early 20th century starchitect Jože Plečnik. Ljubljana is replete with pedestrian-only areas, especially near the iconic Triple Bridge, with parts of its main street restricted to public transit and bicycles. In modern times, Ljubljana has been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, under Italian or French control, ruled by native dictators and kings and a member of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Declaring independence in 1991, Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004. Always supportive of improvised music, the Ljubljana Jazz Festival celebrated its 57th anniversary June 29th-July 2nd this year. Performances were presented in different indoor spaces and the back-garden of the multi-level Cankarjev Dom cultural centre, one of Europe’s largest. MORE

July 16, 2016

Sant’Anna Quintet

Filu ‘e Ferru
MBR SA Jazz No #

Alexander Hawkins/Evan Parker

Leaps in Leicester

Clean Feed CF 362 CD

Perhaps more than any similar aggregation of players, it’s evident that London-based Free Music practitioner are more open to cross-generational fraternization that those in other countries. Of course like those who see Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a children’s story and those who read hallucinogenic experiences into it, there may be differing reasons for this phenomenon. From its earliest days, with drummer John Stevens and guitarist Derek Bailey, the British music’s elders have frequently cast themselves in pedagogical roles. Conversely there may appear to be so much cross-generational collaboration in the United Kingdom, because with their mania for classification only the British would be dead set on ascribing players to one generation or another. MORE

March 12, 2016

Dikeman/Parker/Drake

Live at La Resistenza
El Negocito Records eNR041

Christian Lillinger

Grund

Pirouet PIT 3086

Die Hochstapler

Plays the music of Alvin R. Buckley

Umlaut ub007

Théo Ceccaldi’s Quartet

Petit Moutarde

ONJazz JP-001

Ziporyn/Zimpel/Zemler/Riley

Green Light

MultiKulti MPTO 12

Something in the Air: Young Blood Still Pumps in Jazz

By Ken Waxman

Child prodigies really don’t exist in improvised music. Occasionally there may be some youngster known for jazz playing. But unlike other musics which depend on a performer having a cute image or being able to copy what’s on the score paper, improvising demands full exposure of an inner self. Lacking maturity the majority of these tyros soon disappear. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t young improvising musicians. But to create notable works, like the skills of exceptional actors or visual artists, true musical talent is almost always refined during the player’s twenties or thirties. MORE

January 26, 2016

George Freeman/Chico Freeman

All in the Family
Southport S-SSD 014

Chico Freeman/Heiri Känzig

The Arrival

Intakt Records CD 251

Sessions involving fathers and children or siblings are common enough in improvised music. But All in the Family is one of the few whose chief protagonists are a nephew and his uncle. Then again like the Midwestern individuality that produced figures like Saul Alinsky and Ernest Hemingway – not to mention a Blues variant and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM) – this isn’t unexpected. MORE

December 16, 2015

Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris

Possible Universe
NBR SA Jazz 014

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin

Ichigo Ichie

Libra Records 212 037

Circum Grand Orchestra

12

Circum-Disc CD 1401

Orcheatra Senza Confini/Orkester Brez Meja

Orcheatra Senza Confini/Orkester Brez Meja

Dobialabel

Bertrand Denzler/Onceim

Morph

Confront ccs 37

Something In The Air: Big Bands Redux

By Ken Waxman

Although most people associate big bands with the Swing Era dances and later, jazzier, manifestations such as Nimmons’n’Nine and The Boss Brass, despite the dearth of venues and difficulties of keeping even a combo working steadily, musicians persist in utilizing large ensembles. Like muralists who prefer the magnitude of a large canvas, composers, arrangers and players appreciate the colours and breath available using numerous, well-balanced instruments. MORE

December 11, 2015

Festival Report

Krakow Jazz Autumn
By Ken Waxman

Krakow’s Kazimierz district, which includes Poland’s oldest standing synagogue building, and architecture dating mostly from the 18th century, was early on a centre of intellectual ferment, and more recently known for its large concentration of bars and restaurants. But it’s likely that rarely has the area witnessed such an open display of power and emotion as took place during German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s four-day residency November 5 to 8 at the basement Alchemia Club during Krakow Jazz Autumn. MORE

January 26, 2015

William Parker Quartet

Live in Wroclove
ForTune 0002/002

Daniel Carter William Parker Federico Ughi

Navajo Sunrise

Rudi Records RRJ1016

Even after more than 50 years of European support for advanced American Free Jazz, unique stimulation is usually apparent when New World musician perform in certain continental circumstances. Take the two CDs here. Both feature New York bass master/composer William Parker, were recorded 18 months apart in Poland (Live in Wroclove) or Italy (Navajo Sunrise) with a co-op trio or his regular working band, and each have something characteristic to offer. MORE

January 6, 2015

Luc Ex’ Assemblée

Luc Ex’ Assemblée
Red Note RH 19

By Ken Waxman

Although many of Dutch bassist Luc Ex’s affiliations have been with rock-jazz oriented groups Assemblée is an unabashed jazz project, for which he composed a set of distinctive originals. The rhythmic power he displayed in bands such The Ex and 4Walls is still present, but performances on this vibrant CD are given added heft by featuring American drummer Hamid Drake, the closest thing to a percussion insurance policy that exists. Fellow Netherlander Ab Baars and German Ingrid Laubrock complete the line-up on reeds. Even though each mostly plays tenor saxophone, there’s no emulation of the dueling tenor tradition embedded in hard bop or free jazz. MORE

June 20, 2014

Hera with special guest Hamid Drake

Seven Lines
MultiKulti MPI 030

By Ken Waxman

Billed as special guest, Hamid Drake fills more than that role on Seven Lines. The Chicago-based drummer fits into this expanded edition of the Polish Hera band like incense within a censer. The reason is simple. Known for his sophisticated contributions as a jazz drummer, Drake is also at ease in so-called world music, playing in African-inspired and reggae bands. Hera bandleader, reedist Wacław Zimpel is his homologue. A frequent associate of jazzers like Ken Vandermark, the clarinetist’s compositions for Hera are based on Japanese, Iranian tribal and Tibetan themes. Moreover when Zimpel and Hera’s saxophonist Paweł Postaremczak play harmonium, and Raphael Rogiński’s guitar and Maciek Cierliński’s hurdy-gurdy join in, it’s as if the ensemble is made up of tabla, sitar and ektara (one-stringed drone instrument). MORE

January 8, 2014

Festival Report

Festival Jazzdor Strasbourg
By Ken Waxman

A mercantile and European Union government centre, Strasbourg is a sophisticated French city with a large university, massive fortifications, picturesque canals and a renowned cathedral. Although La Marseillaise was composed and first sung in Strasbourg it’s also part of Alsace which was ceded to Germany from 1871-1918 and 1940-1944. Overcoming this historical enmity, for the past 11 years Festival Jazzdor has included a series of concerts in the nearby German city of Offenburg.

This year’s festival (November 8 to 22) was no different. One of its highlights was Günter Baby Sommer’s Bopp-Art Percussions in Offenburg’s Reithalle in Kulturforum. Featuring the veteran drummer’s quartet of saxophonist Frank-Paul Schubert, trombonist Gerhard Gschlößle and bassist Antonio Borghini, it matched their fiery blistering improvisations with a three-man Taiko ensemble plus Katharina Hilpert’s ethic and traditional flutes which bridged the two solitudes. Although the white blouses worn by the percussionists made them look like chefs, their massive drums and gongs resonations merely spiced the program with the Sommer four which provided the main meal. The several courses included traditional Saxon marches, slinky set pieces and experimental excursions where the horns injected gospel-like and Dixieland inflections emotions into frenetic line deconstruction. Prominent were tunes such as Like Don” and “Art Goes Japan”, which honored Sommer’s heroes Don Cherry and Art Blakey. The former featured a Schubert reimaging of a Cherry head, while the dynamism of the latter was maintained as the bearded, diminutive drummer put an individualist stamp on many of Blakey’s distinctive runs. MORE

December 8, 2013

Kidd Jordan & Hamid Drake

A Night in November Live in New Orleans
Valid Records VR-1015

Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton

Live at Maya Recordings Festival

NoBusiness NBCD 55

Butcher/Buck/Mayas/Stangl

Plume

Unsounds 35u

Michel Doneda/Joris Rühl

Linge

Umlaut Records umfrcd 07

Lori Freedman & John Heward

On No On

Mode Avant 16

Matt Mitchell

Fiction

Pi Recordings PI50

Paul Bley Trio

Closer
MORE

October 14, 2013

Festival Report

Guelph Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

New combination and new conceptions, sporadically sprinkled with touches of exotica, characterized the 20th anniversary edition of the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) September 4-8. Affiliated with a contiguous academic Colloquium on improvisation, the GJF, located in a small university city, fewer than 100 kilometres west of Toronto, has from its beginning stretched the definition of “jazz”, while avoiding populist pandering. The approach obviously works well, with the GJF slowly expanding. On Saturday, afternoon and evening free outdoor concerts now take place in front of city hall; the free, dusk-to-dawn Nuit Blanche offers intimates performances in non-traditional downtown spaces. Plus a full schedule of workshops and formal concerts unrolls each day. MORE

August 1, 2013

Jeff Albert’s Instigation Quartet

The Tree on the Mound
RogueArt R0G-0046

Two generations of innovative New Orleans residents improvise together on this swiftly moving session of seven original compositions, including four parts of a multi-layered suite. Seconding the Crescent city natives – tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan, 78, and trombonist Jeff Albert 43 – are two Chicagoans on bass and drums, creating an ensemble not unlike those extant during the 1920s when the likes of Sidney Bechet and Kid Ory brought Big Easy styles north to the Windy City.

Of course one can’t take the Crescent City-Windy City historical comparisons too far. For a start neither rhythm section member is an apprentice in advanced sounds like early Chicago Jazzers would have been. As a matter of fact bassist Joshua Abrams is proficient playing various world musics as well as being the linchpin of several Chicago bands, including his own. As for drummer Hamid Drake, he’s one of the most in-demand percussionists in the world, as likely to appear on a European festival stage as a U.S. club gig. MORE

June 13, 2013

Didier Petit-Alexandre Pierrepont

Passages
RogueArt ROG-0042

By Ken Waxman

While the ‘50s were the heyday for “Jazz with Poetry” recordings, leave it to the French to create a “Jazz without Poetry” recording. Unlike say Jack Kerouac reading his works while Zoot Sims improvises beside him in the studio, the musicians here improvise while listening to Alexandre Pierrepont’s poetry through headphones. Further confounding the paradigm, Pierrepont reads in French, then an English-speaker reads the same passage in French idiosyncratically altering the meaning. Very occasionally snatches of field recordings, including guitar strums or soprano vocalizing leak into the mix, but except for once, nothing of the poem is heard. MORE

October 7, 2012

Festival Report

The Guelph Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

A spectre was haunting the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), but it was a benign spectre: the ghost of John Coltrane. The influence of Coltrane, who died in 1967, was honored in direct and indirect ways throughout the five days of the festival which takes places annually in this mid-sized college town, 100 kilometres west of Toronto.

This year’s edition (September 5 to 9), featured two live performances of Ascension, Coltrane’s free jazz masterwork from 1965, one with the original instrumentation by an 11-piece Toronto ensemble at the local arts centre; the other on the main stage of the soft-seated River Run Centre concert hall featured the Bay-area ROVA saxophone’s quartet reimaging of the work, scored for 12 musicians adding strings and electronics to the basic ensemble. MORE

July 26, 2012

Chicago Trio

Velvet Songs: To Baba Fred Anderson
Rogueart ROG-0030

A tribute disc without including any of the dedicatee’s music, this two-CD set was actually recorded almost two years before the death of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson in 2010. But these uncompromising, heart-felt performances captured at the Velvet Lounge, the south-side club Anderson ran for many decades, are more meaningful tributes to the musician and his abiding influence than any lachrymose song recreation.

That’s because, before a late career re-discovery in the 1990s that saw Anderson record dozens of CDs before his death, he was best-known as a club owner – the Birdhouse was his previous venue – and a bandleader who encouraged young talent and gave experimental musicians, mostly, but not exclusively from, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a regular place to play. Each of the Chicago Trio members benefitted from Anderson’s counsel in different ways. Now in-demand for a multitude of gigs in Europe and North America, Hamid Drake was a teenage percussionist given his first professional experience in Anderson’s band. Bassist and cellist Harrison Bankhead, a confrere of the tenor saxophonist in Anderson’s later bands, also worked with other committed improvisers like flautist Nicolle Mitchell and trumpeter Malachi Thompson. Meanwhile Ernest Dawkins, who plays soprano, alto and tenor saxophones plus percussion here played his first gig at the Birdhouse and often played with his New Horizons band at the Velvet Lounge. MORE

June 5, 2012

Indigo Trio/Michel Edelin

The Ethiopian Princess meets the Tantric Priest
RogueArt ROG-0034

Nicole Mitchell

Awakening

Delmark DE-599

By Ken Waxman

Even after nearly 60 years as a double for woodwind players – and first choice for a select few – the flute can’t shake off its reputation as a secondary jazz axe. But Nicole Mitchell, who recently moved from Chicago to the West Coast, is doing her best to overcome this stigma. Avoiding the transverse tube’s frillier association, she also stays away from atonal experiments. As these CDs demonstrate, impressive improvisations are created even as the flute retains its lyrical characteristics. MORE

June 5, 2012

Festival Report:

dOek's 10th Anniversary
By Ken Waxman

Unexpectedly but appropriately, Sean Bergin tenor saxophonist and tour-guide-for-the-day, added an extra stop to an afternoon bus tour of selected jazz clubs during Amsterdam’s 10th anniversary dOeK festival April 21-22. In front of a construction site on a narrow street beside a canal, which from 1974-2005 been home to the Bimhuis, the South African-born Bergin passed out noise-makers and lead the participants in a brief fanfare celebrating ground zero for advanced Dutch sounds,

The salute was doubly significant. Not only was that location progenitor of the spacious, soft-seated, harbor-front location of the new Bimhuis in which the two-day festival took place, but long-time Amsterdam resident Bergin, who during the bus journey entertained with quirky songs and stories about the city’s musical history while playing saxophone, penny-whistle and ukulele, is a representative of the foreign improvisers who have contributed to the city’s musical gestalt over the years. MORE

February 20, 2012

Indigo Trio/Michel Edelin

The Ethiopian Princess meets the Tantric Priest
RogueArt ROG-0034

The Ethiopian Princess meets the Tantric Priest

RogueArt ROG-0034

Even after the nearly 60 years since it became an accepted double for many woodwind players – and instrument of choice for a select few – the flute still can’t shake off its reputation as a secondary axe for improvisation. But Nicole Mitchell, who recently moved from Chicago to the West Coast, is doing her best to overcome this stigma. Avoiding the transverse tube’s frillier association, in her writing and playing she also stays away from outright timbral experimentation. Nevertheless, as these CDs, recorded within two months of one another demonstrate, impressive improvisations can be created, even as the gold-plated stick retains its so-called lady-like characteristics. MORE

July 2, 2011

Mihály Dresch, Lafayette Gilchrist, Mátyás Szandai, Hamid Drake

Sharing the Shed
BMC Records BMC CD 174

Budapest and Baltimore may have more in common than most realize – at least when it comes to improvised music. That`s the message communicated by this compelling CD, featuring Hungary’s most accomplished saxophone stylist and a Maryland based Funk-Jazz pianist. Woodshedding originals and one standard, the high energy front men are aided by a veteran Chicago drummer on call throughout the world and one of the Danube-bisected city`s most dependable bassists.

Hungarian Mihály Dresch, who plays tenor and soprano saxophones plus a fuhunna recorder he developed himself, epitomizes how attributes from Magyar folk heritage can be worked into a modern Jazz concept. He does this both with his own band, often featuring trumpeter/fiddler Ferenc Kovacs, as well as with visitors such as fellow tenor man Archie Shepp. Young pianist Lafayette Gilchrist, the Washington-born, Baltimore-based member of the Black Saint Quartet, headed by another tenor star, David Murray, brings elements of D.C. Go-Go, old school Soul, hard Funk and progressive Hip-hop into his playing here. Meanwhile the quartet’s rhythm section is made up of bassist Mátyás Szandai, part of Dresch’s working group as well as other Hungarian combos; and Hamid Drake who is as likely to show up in Europe backing numerous first-class players as doing likewise on his own Windy City turf. MORE

April 8, 2011

FMP In Rückblick

In Retrospect 1969-2010
FMP CD 137 - FMP CD 148

Something in the Air: FMP`s 40th Anniversary

By Ken Waxman

Throughout jazz history, independent labels have typified sounds of the time. In the Swing era it was Commodore; Modern jazz was prominent on Blue Note and Prestige; and with Improvised Music, FMP is one of the longest lasting imprints. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Berlin-based label has given listeners a spectacular birthday present with FMP In Rückblick – In Retrospect 1969-2010,12 [!] CDs representing FMP’s past and future – the oldest from 1975, the newest, by American cellist Tristan Honsinger and German guitarist Olaf Rupp from 2010, half previously unissued – plus an LP-sized, 218-page book, lavishly illustrated with contemporary photographs, posters, album covers and a discography. MORE

March 14, 2011

Tell No Lies Claim No Easy Victories

Edited by Phillipp Schmickl
Impro 2000

ECM 40th Anniversary Catalogue

Edited by Kenny Inaoka

Tokyo Kirarasha

As globalization intensifies, American-birthed popular music forms – most especially Jazz and Improvised Music – have evolved far beyond their initial audiences, confirming one of the hoariest of clichés, that music is a universal language. Creative music of many stripes has for many years been often treated more seriously in Europe and Asia than in North America. Consequently to be truly informed about the breadth of musical sounds it helps to understand other languages besides English. That’s the challenge related to the valuable books here. Neither is published primarily in English, but both can serve as resources for followers of Jazz and Improvised Music, no matter their native tongues. MORE

November 11, 2010

Frank Gratkowski-Hamid Drake

Frank Gratkowski & Hamid Drake
Valid Records VR-1014

Gratkowski/Nabatov/Schmickler

Deployment

Leo Records CD LR 565

Ever-widening his circle of playing partners and the musical textures involved, German saxophonist and clarinetist Frank Gratkowski has the past decade established himself as a notable genre-jumper. Overall, he’s as apt to lend his talents to the pseudo-classical Zeitkratzer ensemble as he is playing Free Improv with trumpeter Herb Robertson, to take one partner, or dabbling in live electronics with the likes of keyboardist Chris Brown. MORE

March 8, 2010

Guelph Jazz Festival

Guelph, Ontario
September 9 - 13, 2009

Always populist, the annual Guelph Jazz Festival extended its support of outdoor improvisation plus interaction between Third and First World musicians in its 16th edition, without lessening its commitment to Free Music. Much of the outstanding music-making came from the later however, with American pianist Marilyn Crispell one standout.

Featured in American, European and Canadian group settings, Crispell’s playing was powerful and outer-directed at the River Run Centre concert hall, in a trio with two AACM stalwarts, seemingly ageless tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson and colorful percussionist Hamid Drake, whose rhythmic conception is comfortable in any context. Anderson often quivered or vibrated reflective lines that were paralleled with linear arpeggios or kinetic pedal-pushed frequencies by Crispell. Meantime Drake’s palm or stick movement conveyed all the rhythm. Climax was a version of Muñoz’s “Fatherhood”, built on ecclesiastical chording from the pianist, ruffs and rebounds from Drake and gospel-like preaching from Anderson. MORE

January 11, 2010

Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things

About Us
482 Music 482-1068

Viktor Tóth

Tartim

Budapest Music Center Records BMC CD 150

Adding special guests to an already existing ensemble can often be a shortcut to confusion. Either the news players don’t mesh with the others or the group loses its individuality and become the backing band to the guests. Leaders of the ensembles on these CDs avoid both drawbacks, yet each does so in a fashion that’s as different as their respective backgrounds.

Chicago drummer Mike Reed, who gigs with everyone from cornetist Rob Mazurek to flautist Nicole Mitchell, also produces contemporary improv concerts in the city and is vice-chairman of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Yet his band People, Places & Things – filled out by alto saxophonist Greg Ward, tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman and bassist Jason Roebke – is organized to play original material honoring advanced Chicago sounds from 1954-1960. That’s homage not fealty; there’s no overt imitation here. In addition, the guests – trombonist Jeb Bishop, tenor saxophonist David Boykins and guitarist Jeff Parker – play on one track each to further orient the music towards contemporary improv. MORE

January 11, 2010

Viktor Tóth

Tartim
Budapest Music Center Records BMC CD 150

Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things

About Us

482 Music 482-1068

Adding special guests to an already existing ensemble can often be a shortcut to confusion. Either the news players don’t mesh with the others or the group loses its individuality and become the backing band to the guests. Leaders of the ensembles on these CDs avoid both drawbacks, yet each does so in a fashion that’s as different as their respective backgrounds.

Chicago drummer Mike Reed, who gigs with everyone from cornetist Rob Mazurek to flautist Nicole Mitchell, also produces contemporary improv concerts in the city and is vice-chairman of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Yet his band People, Places & Things – filled out by alto saxophonist Greg Ward, tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman and bassist Jason Roebke – is organized to play original material honoring advanced Chicago sounds from 1954-1960. That’s homage not fealty; there’s no overt imitation here. In addition, the guests – trombonist Jeb Bishop, tenor saxophonist David Boykins and guitarist Jeff Parker – play on one track each to further orient the music towards contemporary improv. MORE

October 16, 2009

Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Strings

Renegades
Delmark DE 587

Indigo Trio

Anaya

Rogueart Rog-0018

Having established herself as one of the primary flute voices in today’s improvised music, Chicago’s Nicole Mitchell has reached the point when she can record within six months of one another such dissimilar – yet equally engrossing – CDs. At the same time however, the sessions also pinpoint yet another evolution in the music as well as the challenge for the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) of which Mitchell is co-chair. MORE

October 16, 2009

Indigo Trio

Anaya
Rogueart Rog-0018

Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Strings

Renegades

Delmark DE 587

Having established herself as one of the primary flute voices in today’s improvised music, Chicago’s Nicole Mitchell has reached the point when she can record within six months of one another such dissimilar – yet equally engrossing – CDs. At the same time however, the sessions also pinpoint yet another evolution in the music as well as the challenge for the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) of which Mitchell is co-chair. MORE

February 18, 2009

Viktor Tóth

Climbing with Mountains
BMC CD 132

Mihály Dresch Quartet

Árgyélus

BMC CD 131

Hungarian saxophonists Viktor Tóth and Mihály Dresch may have their names on the CD covers as leaders of the dates, but their joint secret weapon is Ferenc Kovács. A multi-instrumentalist, he demonstrates equal facility playing trumpet on six tracks of Climbing with Mountains, and violin on three tracks of Árgyélus. Both these CDs aptly demonstrate the present state of Hungarian Jazz, which is still striving to asset its individuality. MORE

February 18, 2009

Mihály Dresch Quartet

Árgyélus
BMC CD 131

Viktor Tóth

Climbing with Mountains

BMC CD 132

Hungarian saxophonists Viktor Tóth and Mihály Dresch may have their names on the CD covers as leaders of the dates, but their joint secret weapon is Ferenc Kovács. A multi-instrumentalist, he demonstrates equal facility playing trumpet on six tracks of Climbing with Mountains, and violin on three tracks of Árgyélus. Both these CDs aptly demonstrate the present state of Hungarian Jazz, which is still striving to asset its individuality. MORE

November 20, 2008

Kidd Jordan

The Vision Festival New York
June 11, 2008

Figuratively – and usually single-handedly – carrying the banner for experimental Jazz in New Orleans for many years, tenor saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan, 73, must have felt metaphorically out-in-the-cold on many occasions. But heat was certainly in evidence – literally and emotionally – mid-June in New York as a turn-away crowd helped celebrate the reedman’s Lifetime Achievement with a series of concerts.

Highlight of the 13th Annual Vision Festival that took place at the Lower East Side’s Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, the five sets honoring Jordan were hot – as was the venue. Despite a few strategically placed revolving fans, the temperature hovered around 35 degrees Celsius in the venerable space, with body heat from the packed audiences adding to the ventilation challenges. MORE

March 28, 2008

William Parker

The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield – Live in Rome
Rai Trade RTPJ 0011

William Parker/ Raining On The Moon

Corn Meal Dance

AUM Fidelity AUM043

William Parker Double Quartet

Alphaville Suite

Rogue Art: ROG 0010

Concerned with different varieties of the Black vernacular experience, each of these fine CDs by bassist William Parker is impressive on its own. More profoundly each illustrates in a different way that the musical divisions among jazz, R&B, improvised music and soul are, in many cases, merely arbitrary. MORE

March 28, 2008

William Parker/Raining On The Moon

Corn Meal Dance
AUM Fidelity AUM043

William Parker Double Quartet

Alphaville Suite

Rogue Art: ROG 0010

William Parker

The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield – Live in Rome

Rai Trade RTPJ 0011

Concerned with different varieties of the Black vernacular experience, each of these fine CDs by bassist William Parker is impressive on its own. More profoundly each illustrates in a different way that the musical divisions among jazz, R&B, improvised music and soul are, in many cases, merely arbitrary. MORE

March 28, 2008

William Parker Double Quartet

Alphaville Suite
Rogue Art: ROG 0010

William Parker/ Raining On The Moon

Corn Meal Dance

AUM Fidelity AUM043

William Parker

The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield – Live in Rome

Rai Trade RTPJ 0011

Concerned with different varieties of the Black vernacular experience, each of these fine CDs by bassist William Parker is impressive on its own. More profoundly each illustrates in a different way that the musical divisions among jazz, R&B, improvised music and soul are, in many cases, merely arbitrary. MORE

December 4, 2007

Steve Swell’s Fire Into Music

Swimming in a Galaxy of Goodwill and Sorrow
Rogue Art ROG-0009

Showcasing four major players operating at the top of their game, this nearly 73- minute CD is a pulsating and passionate essay on top-flight composition and improvisation that stays fully in the present while subtly referencing the past. Most pieces feature expected call-and-response from the horns, and the heads are nearly always recapped.

With his ability to articulate J. J. Johnson-style runs as effortlessly as he finesses Classic Jazz inflected tremolo slurs, trombonist Steve Swell, who wrote two-thirds of the tracks, builds many of them on the contrapuntal contrast between his solid timbres and the astringent trills of veteran alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc. As their intertwined output explores the spectrum of extended techniques, the tunes’ fundamental rhythmic shape is maintained by bassist William Parker. With that function solidified, drummer Hamid Drake – who may, along with the bassist, be the most recorded advanced jazz player of this century – pops and ruffs his drums, whacks wood blocks and generally elasticizes the beat. MORE

November 10, 2006

Hamid Drake & Bindu

Bindu
RogueArt ROG-0001

With the ensemble and the CD entitled Bindu, an Indian concept that signifies action as in worship or prayer, you know that this almost 75-minute, eight-track CD is not going to be a standard blowing session.

A further look at the personnel confirms this. Leader Hamid Drake plays drums, percussion and tabla, while the other participants are four saxophonists – Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen from New York; and Greg Ward and Ernest Dawkins from Chicago –

plus Windy City flautist Nicole Mitchell. The reason why the CD is not wholly satisfying however is that the date is segmented: harder, fast-paced riff pieces featuring the reed players and two devotional pieces, the lengthiest of the set. MORE

October 16, 2006

Kidd Jordan/Hamid Drake/William Parker

Palm of Soul
AUM Fidelity AUM038

Temporarily and involuntarily away from his home in the Big Easy due to Hurricane Katrina, tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan’s playing is more meditative than usual – although just as inspired – on this exceptional trio CD

Partnered by improv’s busiest rhythm section – New York bassist William Parker and Chicago percussionist Hamid Drake – Jordan, who for many years has not only been New Orleans’ most accomplished Free improviser, but often it’s only one, bring a lifetime of studied iconoclasm to the seven compositions here. Cerebral as well as fiery, he knows how to adjust his solid mid-register glottal punctuation and reverberated split tones for maximum impact. Always straightforward – although not straightahead – his improvising includes dirge-like atonal contrafacts of Crescent City classics like “Lonely Avenue” and “The Saints”. MORE

April 17, 2006

ASSIF TSAHAR/COOPER-MOORE/HAMID DRAKE

Lost Brother
Hopscotch Records HOP 33

LOST BROTHER seems to be a misnomer, at least if it’s supposed to apply to any of the performers on this trio CD. For if any one of Chicago drummer Hamid Drake and New Yorkers, reedist Assif Tsahar and multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore, was ever a “lost brother” he’s certainly found himself as evidenced by this CD. Furthermore so collaborative is their improvising here that you’d think that the three are reuniting musical siblings.

In truth the Israeli-born Tsahar, Louisiana-born Drake and the Virginia-born Cooper-Moore met and first played together as adults. All have extensive recording histories – especially Drake, who seems to have played with nearly every musician from A (Sardinian guitarist Paolo Angeli) to Z (Chicago percussionist Michael Zerang) – and each of the other two has recorded in duo with Tsahar. But this is the three players’ first trio session, with the nine instant compositions giving each enough space in which to express himself. Each is proficient on more than one instrument. Tsahar plays both tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Drake drums, tablas and frame drums, and Cooper-Moore ashimba, twanger and diddley-bow. MORE

April 10, 2006

Abs (.) Hum

No Heroes
Tiramizu Triacd

Angeli/Drake
Uotha
Nu Bop Records

Korber/Rowe/Müller
Fibre
For4Ears

The London Electric Guitar Orchestra
Sticks and Stones
2:13 Music

Jozef van Wissem
Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
BVHaast

By Ken Waxman
April 10, 2006

Strings in multiples sets are the focus of these CDs, which match electronics to traditional instruments in programs that in most cases could only be created in the 21st Century. Featuring musicians from five European countries and the United States, they also suggest that globalism can be beneficial – when it involves sounds rather than commercial trade. All the discs feature strings manipulated in different fashions, although the majority of musicians are playing some variation of the world’s most popular string set – the guitar. MORE

September 19, 2005

WILLIAM PARKER

Luc's Lantern
Thirsty Ear THI 57158.2

WILLIAM PARKER QUARTET
Sound Unity
Aum Fidelity Aum 034

Conventional and unconventional sounds reflecting the improvisational and compositional talents of New York bassist William Parker, both these CDs are noteworthy. What's most surprising though is that the unconventional one is LUC'S LANTERN. Known as one of the prime movers in New York's avant-garde scene, Parker is still able to create a session that could have been put out by such classic 1960s piano trios as Ahmad Jamal's, Bill Evans's or Oscar Peterson's. It's unconventional in its very conventionality. MORE

September 12, 2005

DAVID S. WARE

Live in the World
Thirsty Ear THI 57153.2

David S. Ware doesn’t shy away from the Free Jazz label. Unlike some contemporary improvisers who say they play Free Music and treat jazz the way nouveau riche yuppies view acquaintances still wearing last year’s clothes, the tenor saxophonist esteems the tradition that goes back through 1960s New Thing to take in distinctive reed stylists such as Sonny Rollins and before that Coleman Hawkins.

This three-CD set of live performances helps stake his claim as one of the foremost jazz tenor saxophone stylist in the 21st century. Made up of one 1998 Swiss concert and two Italian gigs from 2003, it features three different drummers: the band’s former trapsperson, Susie Ibarra; its present one Guillermo E. Brown; and Hamid Drake, the gentleman from Chicago who often plays with the quartet’s longtime bassist William Parker. Ware’s tough love jazz values are such that they run roughshod over any tendency towards electronica or world music in which some of the other players have indulged at other times. The three hours of music also confirm Ware’s status as a major league jazzer. MORE

September 7, 2005

Ernest Dawkins’ Chicago 12

Misconceptions of a Delusion, Shades of a Charade
Dawk Music Release #04

Designed as a celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the Chicago Seven trial, this nearly 80-minute slice of agitprop avant-garde is as much forward looking as backwards glancing.

Recorded live in Paris in early 2004, the narration voiced by “disco poet” Khari B. recalls the repressed radical anti-war and anti-racist sentiments of the late 1960s, which strike a responsive chord in an audience familiar with similar situations involving the Iraq War. At the same time, composer Ernest Dawkins, who directs but doesn’t play in the 12-piece band, uses this expanded version of his usual quintet to show off some of Chicago’s emerging improvising talents. Considering the AACM, with which all the musicians here are affiliated, was also established in the mid-1960s, the link seems appropriate and apt. MORE

May 2, 2005

HENRY GRIMES TRIO

Live at the Kerava Jazz Festival
Ayler ayl CD-028

Henry Grimes’ rediscovery and return to performing has been one of the pleasant surprises of the 21st Century improv scene. Formerly a shadowy, but respected figure whose sophisticated bass playing made him one of the pioneers of the New Thing, his employers included Cecil Taylor, Sonny Rollins and Albert Ayler.

Returned to active playing action after a 30-year absence – and without literally touching a bass for most of those years – initially his output was diffident and hesitant. However, as the cliché says, practice makes perfect. Honing his chops after a year of steady gigging, this CD proves that Grimes is back in the groove. If nothing else, holding his own for over an hour in concert with two of jazz’s most accomplished and busiest performers – reedist David Murray and percussionist Hamid Drake – parades his undiminished prowess. MORE

March 28, 2005

EVAN PARKER TRIO & PETER BRÖTZMANN TRIO

The Bishop’s Move
VICTO cd 093

A extraordinary face off between veteran improv titans or as they prefer to say at the Victoriaville festival, un première mondiale, this meeting combines British saxophonist Evan Parker’s touring group with German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s Northern American band. More of a rapprochement than a battle royal, the 73½-minute session, recorded live at Quebec’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in 2003 categorically accentuates the similarities rather than the differences between the two improv power trios. MORE

December 20, 2004

FRED ANDERSON/HAMID DRAKE

Back Together Again
Thrill Jockey thrill 139

Thirty years after they first played together Chicago-based tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson and drummer Hamid Drake have finally got around to recording a duo session.

Fuelled by the flexible sophistication of the percussionist and the homebody maturity of Anderson, there are many fine passages throughout. But as good as it gets, the limitations of hearing only one saxophone and a drummer over more than 72½-minutes -- plus an additional CD that includes a QuickTime movie -- are apparent. MORE

December 6, 2004

PETER BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET

Signs
Okkadisk OD 12048

MS4
PETER BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET
Images
Okkadisk OD 12047

More than five years after it was first organized, German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s mostly Chicago-populated Tentet has become a welcomed presence on the international improv scene.

In the tradition of the Globe Unity Orchestra -- of which Brötzmann was also a member -- the reed-heavy band plays long, involved compositions more concerned with spur of the moment interpretation than elaborate arrangements. Yet, as this matched set of live and studio material demonstrates, the 10-piece band actually sounds best when organized patterns and section work are added to the massed firepower. MORE

August 30, 2004

STÉPHAN OLIVA

Itineraire Imaginaire
Sketch SKE 333042

GAETANO LIGUORI
L’Anima Di Un Uomo
Splasc (H) CDH 858.2

Program music that could be the soundtracks for journeys, real and fanciful, characterize the music on these CDs composed by vastly different European pianists.

Leading a sextet, Paris-based Stéphan Oliva’s ITINERAIRE IMAGINAIRE vaults between the sounds of his two greatest influences, Bill Evans and Lennie Tristano. With 13 tracks that offer up his version of escapist romanticism, this imaginary itinerary takes in the filmic territory inhabited by movies like Claude LeLouche’s “A Man and a Woman” and Jacques Demy’s “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”. Imagine a post-modern Gallic twist on Cool Jazz. MORE

September 22, 2003

WILLIAM PARKER

Scrapbook
Thirsty Ear THI 57133.2

William Parker’s name may be above the title, but as the subtitle -- violin trio -- makes clear, the spectacular success of this CD rests in the bow and four strings of Billy Bang.

Legitimate successor to the mantle of Stuff Smith as jazz’s most original string soloist, New York-based Bang’s output has been inconsistent since he first came to prominence in the late 1970s with the String Trio of New York. But everything must have been in alignment on this date as Bang cuts loose on a half-dozen of Parker’s compositions, backed by the New York bassist and Chicago drummer Hamid Drake. MORE

July 7, 2003

BRÖTZMANN/PARKER/DRAKE

Never Too Late But Always Too Early
Eremite MTE 037/038

FRODE GJERSTAD TRIO WITH PETER BRÖTZMANN
Sharp Knives Cut Deeper
Splasc (h) CDH 850

More than 35 years after he roared onto the international Free Jazz scene, German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s playing still seems as ferocious as ever. This is a good thing. For unlike some of his contemporaries who have settled into a sort of middle-aged timidness, the tenor saxophonist still improvises with the same intensity and commitment at 60 as he did when he was 25. MORE

June 16, 2003

VARIOUS ARTISTS

Live from the Vision Festival
Thirsty Ear THI 57131.2

The next best thing to being there, this combination CD and DVD package offers a distillation of some of the outstanding performances from last year’s Vision Festival in New York’s Lower East Side. Lacking the name recognition of Newport, Montreux, or any other capitalist entity-associated international star festival, in its less than 10 year existence, Vision has still promulgated a unique artistic vision.

Built around the vision of bassist William Parker, it’s a place where pioneering avant gardists from the 1960s mix it up with younger players who are carrying on experimental ideals. It’s cross-cultural, national and international as well, with the musicians showcased on this session arriving from Germany, Korea, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Valencia, Calif., New Orleans… and Brooklyn, MORE

April 14, 2003

GARY LUCAS/JOZEF VAN WISSEM

Diplopia
BVHaast 0103

WILLIAM PARKER/JOE MORRIS/HAMID DRAKE Eloping With The Sun
RITI CD 007

String-driven, these CDs work with the idea of adapting traditional plucked instruments to new roles, new sounds and unusual additions. Thus, on one disc, the country bluesman’s favorite National steel guitar and the Renaissance minstrel’s lute are mixed with electronics and percussion for futuristic versions of 16th century airs. On the other, three free jazzers use instruments rescued from the stringband and world music ghettos to create some highly rhythmic improvised sounds. MORE

February 10, 2003

NICOLE MITCHELL/BLACK EARTH ENSEMBLE

Afrika Rising
Dreamtime Records 004

Creativity is still common currency in Chicago as the new CD by flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell proves. Even more ambitious than her debut disc (VISION QUEST also on Dreamtime Records) this CD finds Mitchell, who also teaches flute at Chicago State University, convening an even larger Black Earth Ensemble made up of 19 different musicians on various tracks. The result is an Afrocentric disc that shows off not only her flute, piccolo and vocals, but also the wealth of other Windy City talent, many of whom are also part of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. MORE

September 23, 2002

WILLIAM PARKER

WILLIAM PARKER … And William Danced
AYLER aylCD-044

JEMEEL MOONDOC
Live at Glenn Miller Café Vol. 1
AYLER aylCD-026

True, exceptional, improvised music depends on particular circumstances to be actualized. Mood, time, location and acquaintance are capable of altering the equation to such an extent that two sessions recorded hours apart can be vastly different.

That’s what happened with these two CDs, both of which feature bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake. LIVE was recorded one night at Stockholm’s Glenn Miller Café by the two, plus their regular playing partners, alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc. The result is a representative hour of high class, New York-based free improv sound. Earlier that day Parker and Drake, met and played for the first time with veteran Swedish alto saxophonist Anders Gahnold, who isn’t even that well known in his homeland. Touchingly, the ensuing studio-recorded 66 minutes, offers up a slice of free improv at its finest. MORE

September 2, 2002

AALY TRIO/DKV TRIO

Double or Nothing
Okka Disc OD 12035

SCHOOL DAYS
In Our Time
Okka Disc OD 12041

SPACEWAYS INCORPORATED
Version Soul
Atavistic ALP 130 CD

Eventually Ken Vandermark is going to have to stop wearing his emotions --and influences -- on his sleeve and CD booklet.

Now that the Chicago-based reedman has established himself nationally and internationally as an extender and interpreter of free music, aren’t the dedications he appends to each of his original compositions getting to be a bit redundant? MORE

June 7, 2002

PETER BRÖTZMANN TENTET PLUS TWO

Short Visit To Nowhere
Okka Disk OD 12043

PETER BRÖTZMANN TENTET PLUS TWO
Broken English
Okka Disk OD 12044

Three years after it was first organized and a year after it first toured, Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet (Plus Two in this case) displays, in these 2000 recordings, that it has become an exemplary example of how to adopt free improv to large aggregations.

With a mixed cast of seven Chicagoans, three members from New York state, a Swede and Brötzmann, a German, it has all the firepower of a traditional big band with its eight horns. Plus, the three-man string section and two percussionists ensure that not only is its bottom covered -- so to speak -- but that the strings can alternately meld with the horns or shore up the rhythm section. Also, while the German reedman wrote two of the compositions, he’s democratic enough to make room for one piece each by Chicago multi-woodwind player Ken Vandermark, Swedish reedist Mats Gustafsson and Chicago cellist/violinist Fred Lonberg-Holm. MORE

April 26, 2002

DKV Trio

Trigonometry
Okka Disk 12042

There’s nothing like constant touring to make any ensemble tighter and its members more responsive to one another. That’s why established jazz combos of the 1950s and 1960s sounded so good. However at that time the often near miraculous timing, instant inspiration and embellishments that resulted from a well-received in-person engagement were often lost unless the band was lucky enough to be recorded on the road.

One of saxophonist Ken Vandermark’s many working units, the all-star DKV trio is a contemporary bands that recognizes the advantages of road work and on-the-spot recording. This exemplary two-CD set, recorded last year in Rochester, N.Y. and Kalamazoo, Mich., showcases how the three treat a mixture of original and classic free jazz material. Most instructive are how different versions of compositions by trumpeter Don Cherry sound in each city. MORE

March 29, 2002

PETER BRÖTZMANN & DIE LIKE A DOG QUARTET

Aoyama Crows
FMP CD 118

Bearing in mind that these four busy musicians have been playing together irregularly for a little less than a decade, they’ve coalesced into one of reedist Peter Brötzmann’s most accomplished units. That’s some achievement for a part time combo, considering that past Brötz bands have included some genre definers as saxophonists Frank Wright and Evan Parker, trombonist Paul Rutherford, bassist Peter Kowald and drummers Han Bennink and Louis Moholo.

Singly or together, rhythm section alchemists --- bassist William Parker, linchpin of a dozen bands in New York’s Lower East Side, and drummer Hamid Drake, Chicago’s most in-demand percussionist -- can apparently move any playing situation onto the gold standard. But the wild card here is Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, whose electronic treatments add an unusual found sound texture not found in the saxophonist’s other projects, not to mention being the first trumpeter with whom the saxophonist has had a long term relationship. MORE

March 1, 2002

ASSIF TSAHAR/HAMID DRAKE

Soul Bodies, Vol. 1
Ayler aylCD-0024

ASSIF TSAHAR/HAMID DRAKE/PETER KOWALD/HUGH RAGIN
Open Systems
Marge 28

Stripped down to music’s internal skeleton, real-time improvisation is so basic that it can often be as chancy as trying to reconstruct a human being from his bone structure alone. But when it does work, the results are as spectacular as the accomplishments of anthropologists who use the properties of a few bone shards to discover nearly everything about a vanished personage.

Master drummer Hamid Drake and reedman Assif Tsahar pull out their symbolic pick axes and labor in the improv trenches at 2001’s Vision Festival in New York on SOUL BODIES. During the course of three long pieces they firmly and distinctively bring into being living, breathing bodies of outstanding improvisations. If they miscalculate in any way, it’s in not spending enough time solidifying the souls to enlighten these improv creatures. MORE

December 24, 2001

FRED ANDERSON

On The Run
Delmark DE-534

FRED ANDERSON
Dark Day
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 218 CD

Good things come to those who wait is an expression that was never has more currency than when it’s applied to the career of brawny Chicago tenor sax stylist Fred Anderson. Anderson, was practically unknown and definitely under-documented for almost three decades after his recording debut on Joseph Jarman’s SONG FOR in 1966.

Today that’s all changed. He practically doesn’t have the time to play at and manage his bar, The Velvet Lounge, in Chicago’s near South Side, so busy is he travelling in North America and Europe and working with his own bands and other members of the improv community. He even has a personal manager. MORE

March 1, 2001

ASSIF TSAHAR/HAMID DRAKE

Soul Bodies, Vol. 1
Ayler aylCD-0024

ASSIF TSAHAR/HAMID DRAKE/PETER KOWALD/HUGH RAGIN
Open Systems
Marge 28

Stripped down to music’s internal skeleton, real-time improvisation is so basic that it can often be as chancy as trying to reconstruct a human being from his bone structure alone. But when it does work, the results are as spectacular as the accomplishments of anthropologists who use the properties of a few bone shards to discover nearly everything about a vanished personage.

Master drummer Hamid Drake and reedman Assif Tsahar pull out their symbolic pick axes and labor in the improv trenches at 2001’s Vision Festival in New York on SOUL BODIES. During the course of three long pieces they firmly and distinctively bring into being living, breathing bodies of outstanding improvisations. If they miscalculate in any way, it’s in not spending enough time solidifying the souls to enlighten these improv creatures. MORE

January 25, 2001

JOE MCPHEE/HAMID DRAKE

Emancipation Proclamation
Okka Disk OD 12036

Recorded in front of an enthusiastic Chicago crowd two years ago, this CD is an object lesson in how to create an effective program of free music.

Of course it helps that the participants are two of the most accomplished players in that idiom. There's Hamid Drake, MVP (most valuable percussionist) for everyone from bassist William Parker to saxophonists Fred Anderson and Peter Brötzmann; and multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, who over the past three decades has turned out an impressive body of work while remaining true to his own vision.

MORE

August 4, 2000

WILLIAM PARKER

Painter’s Spring
Thirsty Ear TH 57088.2

One penalty for musical eclecticism is that most listeners don’t realize how well a musician proficient on many instruments can play on each of his axes. The prime example of someone who suffered for his inventiveness was multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. He probably would have been recognized as a major tenor saxophone stylist if he had stuck to that horn, instead of the three he blew in tandem. Another unjustly obscure stylist is Daniel Carter. Manhattanite Carter, who is an impressive link in the cooperatives Other

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July 27, 2000

SPACEWAYS INCORPORATED

Thirteen Cosmic Standards
Atavistic ALP 120 CD

Asked once what he thought of Sun Ra's music, Funkadelic mainman George Clinton famously said: "He's out to lunch all right. The same place I eat at." Now for fanciers of these pioneer Black nationalist space travelers here's a tasty meal, courtesy of Spaceways Incorporated, that serves up several entrees from both men's oeuvre.

Now before anyone looking at the band's name fears that another Klaatu is on the scene, it should be pointed out that each member is identified on the disc. The trio is made up of two Chicagoans: multi-reedist Ken Vandermark, who seems to have as many side projects as McDonald's has hamburgers; and drummer Hamid Drake who has powered the ensembles of Peter Brötzmann and Fred Anderson among others; plus Boston-based acoustic/electric bassist Nate McBride.

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July 22, 2000

FRED ANDERSON

The Milwaukee Tapes Vol. 1
Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 204 CD

If there's a trajectory that bisects the career of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson it's the year 1993. Since that time there have been two or more CDs a year to trace the evolution of the 70-year-old AACM veteran as his fame spreads beyond the Windy City. Before that, there were only one or two scattered documents available of the playing of the brawny stylist once characterized as the "lone prophet of the Prairies" -- including his recording debut on Joseph Jarman's "Song For" in 1966.

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June 17, 2000

PETER BRÖTZMANN

Stone/Water
Okka Disk OD 12032

Peter Brötzmann is no stranger to bombast.

The German multi-reedist first goose-stepped his way into world jazz consciousness in 1968 with MACHINE GUN on FMP. From its first extended blats of pure noise emanating from a (very) mixed platoon of Dutch, Flemish, British and German improvisers, it gave lusty notice that Continental jazzers had to be judged on their own merits rather than in comparison to North American musicians.

Over the years, except for the odd one/off project, economic necessity has forced Brötzmann to work with smaller bands -- usually trios and quartets and some commentators have even posited that the wildman has mellowed.

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