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Friday, October 30, 2020

Percussion duos

We had to do some digging in our archives to find percussion duets. We found the following:

  • Michel Lambert & Rakalam Bob Moses - Meditation On Grace (FMR 2008)
  • Lucas Niggli & Peter Conradin Zumthor - Profos (Not Two, 2009)
  • Hamid Drake & Jesse Stewart - Timelines (Art Stew, 2013) 
  • Dane (Claire) Rousay & John Kennedy - Audit (Congruence, 2018)
  • Eric Thielemans & Billy Hart - Talking About The Weather (Oorwerk, 2019)
  • Ted Byrnes & Matt Weston - TBMW1 (2020)

This is not the kind of music that most people long for, and it is typically classified as "musicians' music", something that can only appreciated by musicians to appreciate the technical skills of colleagues on the instrument. But is it something that can be appreciated by non-percussionists? There are drummers who claim to be bored to death by drum solos. It is an acquired taste, maybe, but most music with artistic ambition also requires some effort from the listener. So please, be our guest and listen with us to some of the masters of the instrument. And by the way, these are not drum battles as in the Buddy Rich-Gene Kruppa tradition (which unfortunately still continues by many imitators on many Youtube movies): these are two projects with their own artistic vision on music. 

Andrea Centazzo & Vasco Trilla - Casa Murada (Ictus, 2020)

By Stef Gijssels

Italian percussionist Andrea Centazzo occupies his own space in music: it is not jazz, it is not avant-garde, it is not free improvisation: it is a little bit of many genres and styles, a synthesis of approaches, often with a broad cinematic feeling, a kind of translation of visual impressions into sound. Vasco Trilla is from Barcelona, Spain, and equally known to readers of this blog. His style of playing is equally synthetic, with influences of jazz, klezmer, Indian music, rock and pop music. 

Trilla invited Centazzo, they performed together and their approach works. Because of the range of instruments they use, there is variation in the music, while they also manage to create a linear structure in their improvisation, a sense of direction, including moments of dark foreboding and dramatic tension.  To be able to create emotional intensity and even storylines with the pure limited and abstract nature of percussion requires a lot of artistic vision. They are making music, not demonstrating their technical skills (although those come in handy). 

Can percussion music be linear, lyrical and emotional? Yes it can. Listen to these two masters. 

The album's title refers to the name of the La Casamurada Studios, Banyeres del Penedès, where it was recorded in November 2019.

Listen and download from Bandcamp

Devin Gray & Gerald Cleaver - 27 Licks (Rataplan, 2020) 

27 Licks, from drummers Devin Gray and Gerald Cleaver is one of those rare double percussion duo recordings, and it is more than just a mesmerizing rhythmical statement, it is also a testimony to friendship.

Don't take my word for it, you can read about it, it's in the liner notes: Gray writes about how he met Cleaver through a mutual acquaintance, kicking off an enduring friendship. You can also hear it in their collaboration. 27 Licks isn't necessarily a bombastic record, the two drummers do not kick up so much aural dust that you cannot see the intense look of listening on their faces (I mean, you can't really, but you know what I mean) as they listen, respond, and make music together.

The album begins with the title track '27 Licks', which kicks-off with an accessible bass drum pulse and exchange between woodblock and floor toms. It is followed by the 'F Train Drain", which is followed by 'Headed to Barbes', I suppose this is the Brooklyn - Park Slope to be more precise - Suite. The F Train is the artery, it is the subway line that runs through Time Square, the East Village, over the East River, and pretty much below the small, neighborhood bar "Barbes", which has served as a hub for the unbelievable set of world class musicians camped out east of Manhattan. So, it's fitting that the track the duo dedicates to the place is so ebullient and inviting. 

This drum duo album is accessible, energetic, and absorbing. The conversation that they two have is focused and purposeful. They enjoy working together as well, it's more than just a talk - it's work, it's play, it's music, it's life. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp