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Monday, October 22, 2007

Tom Rainey

(photo by Barry Quick)

When I review the list of my reviews from this year, there are clearly a few constants, but none so striking as the presence of Tom Rainey at the drumkit, and that is a coincidence in the sense that I never looked for CDs on which he played (unlike CDs with for instance Hamid Drake), yet it's also not a coincidence in the sense that the major jazz musicians of today seek the services of this excellent and very versatile drummer.

Some of this year's best CDs on which Tom Rainey performs :

Joe Rosenberg - Quick Sand
Mark O'Leary - Waiting
David Torn - Prezens
Mark Feldman - What exit
Cline/Parkins/Rainey - Downpour
Drew Gress - Irrational Numbers
Mark Helias - Atomic Clock
Simon Nabatov & Tom Rainey - Steady Now
Brad Shepik - Places You Go
Tim Berne - Live In Cognito
Fred Hersch Trio - Play Coleman, Coltrane, ...

... and add some of the best albums of 2006 :

Drew Gress - 7 Black Butterflies
Julian Argüelles - Partita
Malaby/Sanchez/Rainey - Alive In Brooklyn Vol. 1 & 2

The most staggering thing when you look at this list is the wide variety of styles he is playing, and without a doubt he is a major contributor to the success of each of these CDs. It also demonstrates his attitude - in full service of the music at hand. And it also demonstrates the fact that he combines the technical skills of all these styles together with sufficient musical understanding and creativity to make it a success.

Unfortunately I couldn't find sufficient samples to illustrate the major differences of approach and the quality of his drumming in each and every style he's touched upon in the past years, and that's too bad. It only demonstrates that good music still is hard to find, even on internet.


Anonymous said...

First, let me say that I really enjoy your blog. It is a valuable source of thoughtful musings on an underappreciated corner of the music world, and the joy you find in the music shines through in your writing.

Second, I think Rainey is a treasure. I first learned of him through his work with Tim Berne and Mark Helias. His playing with Berne, especially, is just sublime. I imagine a fast, rocky river--jostling and flipping leaves, splashing stones, fluidly slipping past obstacles, sometimes silently, sometimes noisily, but always moving to an incessant yet varying natural rhythm.

I am occasionally asked by friends with less unconventional tastes in music (friends who consider someone like Berne to be producing random noise) why I like the music I do. But to me the answer is simply that it is beautiful. It may not have an easy-to-see pattern, or perhaps any repeated elements to grasp onto. But this should not be a barrier. If we can find beauty in nature's chaos--in the patter of rain or the fork of a lightning bolt or a cliff wall or a stand of trees--it isn't that hard to find beauty in "free" or "free-er" kinds of jazz.

To me, Rainey fits this picture quite well--he is the river.

Stef said...

Great description, JW!

His river-like playing shines through well on the Malaby/Sanchez/Rainey records as well. Yet he can also be a thundering unrelenting waterfall of heavy power (see Thorn or Cline/Parkins/Rainey).


Stef said...

I didn't mean "Thorn" in this latest comment, but David Torn's Presenz on ECM. Check it out.