Thursday, May 15, 2014

William Hooker - Heart Of The Sun (Engine, 2014) ***

By Stef 

When William Hooker, Roy Campbell and Jason Kao Hwang released "The Gift - Live At Sangha" in 2005, this album gave me a mesmerising experience of sheer beauty, like a door that opened into something unknown and hitherto unheard, offering me a new way of listening. Why? I would not be able to tell. A kind of magic happened. A strange and exhilirating experience.

On "Heart Of The Sun", recorded in 2013, we find Hooker back on drums, with the late Roy Campbell on trumpet, pocket trumpet and flute and now with David Soldier on violin, banjo and guitar. The three musicians play freely, with limited themes, prior plans or concepts, and again the music gells well at times, with Hooker a magnificent leader, offering depth and perspective to the playing, creating waves of thundering percussion and quiet polyrhythms when the soloists do their thing, and stronger even, he can create high volume drumming when the soloists are in a more contemplative mood, working strange contrasts into the music.

To hear Roy Campbell playing, is a real treat. He can give sudden soaring high phrases or move to growling darker tones, at times jazzy, or with Latin undertones or just being his inventive self.

After two track on violin, Soldier switches to banjo, changing the overall sound, Campbell uses his mutes and Hooker resorts to a more bluesy pulse. It is almost basic, raw, somewhat chaotic and imprecise, but that makes it also sound real and human, far removed from the polished sound of superficial feelings, it makes it sound what it should be sounding like.

On "For Leroy", Soldier switches to acoustic guitar, offering some Latin-sounding chords, including some shamanic singing, creating a very uneven performance, with the sound quality slowly degrading too. On "Rainwater", Campbell switches to flute, and Soldier back to violin, while Hooker unleashes again some heavy drumming full of raw energy of the somewhat hesitant soloists, who unexpectedly switch to a little folk dance tune.

It is a strange album, very varied in its musical approaches and sound, maybe a little too incoherent, and with changing levels of intensity and creativity. It is far from being at the same level of "Live At Sangha", and it's maybe the high expectations that I had from it, that make this album somewhat disappointing.

But then, if you like Roy Campbell, it's always a joy to listen to him play.


Available from Instantjazz and Bandcamp.

3 comments:

Colin Green said...

Sadly, no more.

There's a tribute to Roy Campbell from William Parker here:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gcwicC74NO4

Colin Green said...

And a musical tribute:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FCBFqQpE1Q0

And this is truly wonderful:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fSBp5XFgGQM

Stef said...

Colin, Many thanks for this. I hadn't come across them so far. Great stuff indeed!

thanks
stef