logo   Destiny (OD12003)
Musicians Fred Anderson — tenor saxophone
Marilyn Crispell — piano
Hamid Drake — percussion
Cover and Artwork cover

Cover art: Ani Tachdjian
Photography: Marty Perez
Design: Louise Molnar

Songs 1. Destiny 1 — 14:16 (MPEG2)
2. Destiny 2 — 8:26
3. Destiny 3 — 7:29 (MPEG2)
4. Destiny 4 — 13:36
5. Destiny 5 — 14:37
6. Destiny 6 — 8:17 (MPEG2)
total time: 66:44

all compositions by:
Marilyn Crispell (Crispell Publishing/BMI)
Hamid Drake (Smiling Forehead/BMI)
Fred Anderson (Many Weathers/BMI)

Recording Info

Recorded live during The Women of New Music Festival
at the HotHouse, Chicago, IL, April 8, 1994

Produced by: Marilyn Crispell
Executive Producer: Bruno Johnson
Live recording: Ken Christiansen
Mastered at: Classic Digital

Liner Notes

First time she heard Fred Anderson playing tenor sax at the Velvet Lounge, Marilyn Crispell knew she would work with him. His warmth, his kind hand, and the gentle, beneficent power of his music are mirrored in the passion, tensile strength, and spiritual core at the hub of Crispell’s art. Destiny? Perhaps, if you believe in fate, you’ll conclude that they were destined to play together. But predestination seems so inherently anti-improvisational to me that I have a hard time connecting it with people who actively steer the course of their music from moment to moment, as Crispell, Drake, and Anderson do. In any case, we can agree that they had a common destination, a mutual meeting place, in the music documented on Destiny.

Asked with whom she wanted to play at the second incarnation of the "Women of the New Jazz" festival, held in 1994 at Chicago’s HotHouse, Crispell took the opportunity, contacted Anderson, seized her destiny. Who better to round out the trio than Hamid Drake, the most versatile and probably single strongest percussionist in the Windy City. Crispell and Drake had already worked together as a trio with German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, playing a short run of concerts that resulted in Hyperion (Music & Arts). And Drake’s relationship with teacher, guide, and bandleader Anderson goes back to the cradle; he’s been in Anderson’s fold since he first picked up sticks.

To stand in the same room with these three is to experience something uncanny. Good karma fills the air. They beam. Three radiant souls, all blessed with the same peaceful smile. Fantasizing their first encounter before it happens, it almost does seem inevitable, as if this trio is drawn together by some great forces. Anticipating the tender triumvirate’s cosmic coordination, Bruno Johnson and I arrange to record a pre-concert rehearsal at Southport Studio, the day before the show. Marilyn arrives directly from the airport, ready to play. Three hours of recording — the trio’s first steps together — yield some stunning music, as well as some more tentative how’d’ya dos.

Listening back in the control room, Crispell whispers to Drake that her piano’s too high in the mix. She’s an accompanist at heart, and she likes that feeling of supporting a main melodic instrument, particularly a saxophone. Though the tape itself will not be used, in the course of the important rehearsal one material item is developed: an odd, modulating ballad that resurfaces the following evening. This winding, Coltrane-esque tune finds Anderson leading the way with an emotive melody, Crispell following sensitively with the harmonies, telepathically zeroing in on the tenors’ sometimes deceptive, chromatic moves.

High off the studio time, we were eager to hear the trio live, sure that it would be a hit. The result, I can say as a critic and as member of the packed, raving audience, was even better. It was profoundly moving, electrifying, elevating. Concerts like this do not happen often, and when they do, it’s rare to have such an intimate, enjoyable record of them. To these ears, the excitement, risk, edge, and joy of the concert is translated direct-to-disc on Destiny. You can hear Crispell taking stock in the opening minute, as Drake and Anderson rip right out of the gate; she’s soon in the fray, adding sharp, jagged slices, block clusters, thunderous bass, and jumpy rhythms. Anderson works though his favored melodic permutations, sometimes stopping to loop a recursive riff. In a couple of places he reaches deep for a bellowing foghorn blast. In Drake — big dreads falling away from his placid, smiling forehead — we hear exactness and thrust, polyrhythms and swing, independence and encouragement. When he picks up the hand drum, he connects with Anderson for a positively funky exchange. The blues that linger in Chicago’s night air seem to have inspired Crispell too, as she breaks into a broken blues breakdown soon thereafter. And listen, late in the game, as Marilyn goes inside, turning the piano into a santur, to swap Middle Eastern percussion ideas with Hamid.

Flaws are an essential part of live music, and this recording captures a particularly striking one. Sharon Freeman, whose trio played earlier that night, had broken the pianos middle-C. It tells you a lot about what matters to Marilyn as a pianist that she was enthusiastic about the music despite this minor defect (though she is concerned that listeners not be distracted by it). Indeed, if the middle-C is something of a concert standard for the correct calibration of classical piano music, the emphasis in this music is instead on power of expression, interaction between players, the intelligent heart of free jazz communion, the complexities of improvised communication. Can’t find middle-C? Then you’ve gotta use other compasses, maps, and stars to guide you through the night seas.

On Destiny, the sound-ship’s travel is its endpoint. Pleasure in what happens along the way indicates the success of the journey. Destiny goes beyond the finitude of destination.

— John Corbett
Chicago, November 1994


Reviews ***(*) (3 1/2 stars)

Recorded live during the “Women of New Music” festival in Chicago, [this] OkkaDisk set is marred — Crispell-wise — only by having the piano mixed down too low and occasionally swamped by saxophone and percussion. Otherwise it finds her in thoroughly sympathetic company. Anderson’s diction is Coltrane-influenced but generously... This seems like a relationship written in the stars, and it allows them to build up whole areas of interaction in which the exchange of ideas is almost too fast to follow. Drake provides sterling accompaniment and often takes the initiative in breaking up Crispell’s long, suspended lines into shorter, more discursive sections.

— Richard Cook & Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, fifth edition