Nothing as boring as a solo percussion album, you might think. Until you hear what can be done with it. Below, a short overview of new solo, duo, retrospective albums by percussionists, artists who not only have something to tell (ideas, concepts, ...) but also know how to tell them (technical mastery, inventiveness, ...) in such a way that the listener is drawn in the story and wants to hear what's coming next.The lack of melodies and harmonies make it very difficult to pigeonhole solo percussion albums within genres. So, for sure, this is not all jazz, mostly avant-garde. In any case innovative and worth listening to.
Lucas Niggli & Peter Conradin Zumthor - Profos (Not Two, 2011) ***½
The way Swiss percussionists Lucas Niggli and Peter Conradin Zumthor start this album makes my point. It is repetitive, minimalist and incredibly hypnotic. They move through various styles, ranging from "tribal experiments" to high-pitched whistling noises, yet a really strong performance. The "pièce de résistance" is the half-hour long last track, a magnificent acoustic soundscape.
Buy from Instantjazz.
Zlatko Kaučič - Emigrants (Leo Records) ***½
Slovenian percussionist Zlatko Kaučič came to my attention with "Tolminski Punt", a collaboration with Peter Brötzmann. Now we find him back for a solo performance on a variety of percussion instruments, ranging from ground drums, gong, glockenspiel, sansula, kalimba, marimbula, self-made instruments to voice and flute. Because the latter two, world jazz may apply as a subgenre, with folk elements. No doubt he is the strongest story-teller of the whole lot, evoking the emigrant's voyage. A universal story.
Buy from Instantjazz.
Llorenç Barber - Retrospective 1994-2001 (Audition Records, 2011) ****
Incredible piece of music by Spanish percussionist and bell wizzard Llorenç Barber. Very avant-garde, but also incredibly majestic and overwhelming, fireworks included.
Listen and download free EP here.
Paul Hession - 40 Years Of The Drummer (Audition Records, 2011) ***½
True, this is not a real solo percussion album, yet this EP is a great tribute to Paul Hession, one of the most innovative avant jazz drummers of the last decades. Enjoy him here in the company of Joe McPhee, Simon Fell, Mick Beck, Ewan Stefani, although the percussion really dominates, and how!
Listen and download free album here.
Watch Lucas Niggli and Peter Conradin Zumthor