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Friday, July 25, 2008

Solo percussion

I tried to keep away from this topic for a long time : the solo percussion album. Why? Because it's boring. It may be of interest to drummers and percussionists, but it lacks sufficient ingredients to tell a good story.

Some of the best drummers in jazz gave it a try, including Max Roach ("Conversation On Drums", "Sfax"), Baby Dodds, Milford Graves ("Grand Unification", "Stories", "Entelechy"), Andrew Cyrille ("What About"), Eddie Prévost ("Loci Of Change", "Material Consequences"), Andrea Centazzo ("Midnight All Day"), Susie Ibarra ("Drum Sketches"), Brat Oles ("FreeDrum Suite"), Andrew Drury ("Renditions"), Chris Corsano ("The Young Cricketer"), Paal Nilssen-Love ("Sticks & Stones"), Han Bennink ("Solo", "Nerve Beats", but only partly), Jerome Cooper ("From There To Hear"), Tony Scott ("Music For Voodoo Meditation"), Tatsuya Nakatani ("Green Report 12"), and many more. And then of course there's Art Blakey who made "Drum Suite" with a whole percussion band. But despite all the skills and the variations, drumming or just non-melodic percussion (so no vibes or balophon, or the like), makes it really hard to keep my attention going.

And even though there aren't too many duo percussion albums, they do exist.

I recently got this new CD from Canadian drummer Michel Lambert, together with Rakalam Bob Moses.

Michel Lambert & Rakalam Bob Moses - Meditation On Grace (FMR 2008)

The CD consists of four lengthy pieces, recorded live in Quincy, Massachusetts in 2004. If the first track brings some forceful drumming, the second track is a little bit more varied, with softer touches, more creative, conjuring up percussive landscapes, reacting well to one another, doing their utmost to bring that story, trying to make percussion by itself sufficient to tell a story, trying to act as if melodic instruments are no longer necessary. Bob Moses shouts once in a while. The best thing about the album is that both drummers play just for the fun of the interaction. Many solo drum albums are show-off albums, pieces of demonstrations of skills. Here the music itself dominates, and the fourth track is the most powerful one, with some quite intense whipping sounds, rumbling sounds, dry beats, and sizzling brushes. There are some great things to hear on the album, even for non-percussionists, despite the limitations of the concept. Drummers will surely find this of interest.

© stef


Anonymous said...

Not solo, yet percussion only: Milford Graves' Percussion Ensemble. Not my kind off thing to.

Music Reviewer said...

From There to Hear and Drum Suite aren't strictly percussion.

Mehdi said...

Is Tony Scott's Music for Voodoo Meditation any good in your opinion?