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”.

With Parker vibrating gongs and bowls and Drake manipulating frame drum and tabla, Palm of Soul takes on World Music implications. Yet Jordan’s emotional force is such that he subordinates these elements to the honks and slurs that issue from his horn, just as pop and R&B inferences have been individualized during his 50 years as a performer and teacher.

Ignore the comic title, for “Last of the Chicken Wings” most clearly illuminates his reed characteristics. With the others accompanying him percussively, the entire middle section is taken up by the saxophonist using irregular and intense vibrato to experiment with endless possibilities and permutations of the reed line, finally completing the piece with the perfect tongue flourish.

— Ken Waxman

CODA Issue 329