|Passion for Passion
This is one
of the most challenging reviews I have ever written because it involves
writing about music that cannot easily be separated from itself
to order to be translated to another mode of communication. Hamid
Drake on drum & percussion and Joe McPhee on tenor & pocket trumpet
have created a CD which coincides with art, belief, cause, pain,
longing and pursuit for resolution. It is called EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION,
A Real Statement of Freedom.
essence of the CD symbolizes the African-American experience. This
is a journey that is delicate, glorious yet also torrentially harsh.
As does speak the music. The statement of freedom that exists here
is one in which the artists have accepted and embodied the responsibility
necessary to convey their message, no matter how difficult it is
to do so and that is the reason it is REAL.
There are five
works on this hour long 2000 OKKAdisk recording. Each piece is a
blend of tribalism and expressive formalism. Drake extends the limits
of his conventional drum set with rhythmic collectives that are
breathtaking. His ability to balance stick manipulation that is
so quick and precise on the cymbals, toms, snare and hi-hats with
the bravura with which he rumbles and interjects the pounding of
the bass drum cannot be duplicated. The maturity of the development
of his style of playing all his percussion instruments and his sensitivity
to other players, in this case, McPhee, are exceptional. Drake feels
& responds in kind with the horn dropping back and whispering; Drake
feels & responds in kind with the hornís intense screaming. Drake
feels when it is time to be silent and when it is time to be the
gentle inescapable backbeat or become the pulse that progressively
escalates into a raging fire.
the sonic breadth of his horns to spaces where rhythm is the ultimate
content and whatever sound he produces has no alias. Ostinatos rise
out beautiful melodic lines to penetrate & cut through space to
shape another space that makes me shiver. His capacity to breathe
allows him to blow and mold extended lines, having boundaries that
reveal themselves only in the listening. His capacity to render
his melodic lines sensuous with an occasionally interjected sour
split tone is incomparable. His tenor sings from his heart no matter
whether he is tearing out a succession of notes or stroking the
air with a tenderness that does not go away from the listenerís
The first cut,
CRIES AND WHISPERS, speaks of the worthiness of the expression of
black culture; the second, MOTHER AFRICA, is dedicated to Miriam
Makeba, the pre-eminent African singer of the 20th century. Next,
McPhee plays a recurring favorite tune, GOD BLESS THE CHILD, this
time with Drake supporting the sweetness of the notes.
The title track,
EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, bears an inherent structure which when
realized is amazing. The improvisation is declarative, storming
and talks the truth of fighting and struggling and being heard.
At exactly the midpoint of the piece, Drake builds a bridge of percussive
excellence which can ONLY introduce the tenorís bold operatic elongated
pitches which transform into single notes, distancing themselves
from the listener but implying a soundless continuation of the metaphor.
This is perceptibly the crux of the last cut, HATE CRIME CRIES.
deserves a billion stars. These two musicians are so incredibly
married to their musical intentions that their music is overwhelming.
Had I been at the live performance at the Empty Bottle in Chicago
in 1999, I know that I would have not been able to leave in one
body. In fact, having listened to the CD already a dozen times,
I have to pinch myself to see if I am still able to function. —
Lyn Horton (review copyright 2001 jazzreview.com)