Hard to believe, but A Night In NovemberLive in New Orleans
is the first drums / saxophone duet recording by legendary New Orleans free jazz saxophonist and educator Kidd Jordan
. He's accompanied by a true kindred spirit, Hamid Drake
. Though both have made names for themselves in the rarefied world of free improvisation, neither are shy about their roots in more traditional forms of jazz, blues, soul, and R&B. Jordan, now almost 80 years old, is a remarkable figure whose music has only been properly documented since the late 1990s. In an interview with Ted Panken, published in Cadence Magazine
back in 2003, Jordan states... "the aesthetic from the Blues is a part of the thing that I want to have in my playing. I don't care how out it gets." As an educator, Jordan touched the lives of many important and highly visible contemporary jazz artists, including Branford Marsalis
, Donald Harrison
, and co-founder of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band
, Charles Joseph.
Also a Louisiana native, Drake is a couple of generations younger than Jordan and came up playing blues, funk, reggae, and African music in Chicago. Best known in the latter half of the 20th Century for longstanding and artistically fruitful collaborations with Fred Anderson
, Foday Musa Suso
, Don Cherry
, William Parker
, and Peter Brotzmann
, Drake entered the 21st Century as one of the preeminent percussionists in both the jazz and improvised music worlds. Previously members of Fred Anderson's quartet, Drake and Jordan have been collaborating recently in trio format with bassist Joshua Abrams
, and in trombonist Jeff Albert
's quartet. It seems only natural that the two perform and record as a duo.
Though not conceived as a tribute recording, the towering figure of Fred Anderson-Drake's mentor and Jordan's running buddy- casts benevolent shadow over these proceedings. Known for his marathon improvisations and endless melodic / harmonic inventiveness, Anderson's duo and trio work (usually with Drake behind the kit) sets the tone for the proceedings on A Night In NovemberLive in New Orleans
. The duo's free associative music runs the gamut from gutbucket funk to tender balladry to abstract sound investigations reminiscent of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The set starts out with Jordan on alto saxophone, and instrument he originally studied with the intent of becoming a classical saxophonist. Here, Jordan is at his most edgy and abstract, firing off salvos of multiphonics, high- register squeals, and jagged 32nd note runs that reveal his grounding in the music of Charlie Parker
, Eric Dolphy
, and Ornette Coleman
. There's even a little quote from Ornette's "Blues Connotation" at about the halfway point of "Set One: Tenor and Drums." Drake's unhurried, sure-handed accompaniment is conversational but never overwhelming. Though he plays drum kit throughout, Drake's extensive experience with various hand drums is quite evident.
There are two brief solo interludes, one for each player, that form a bridge between the three duets that comprise the album. With Jordan on tenor, Drake plays a bit more aggressively. He dives right into his characteristic multi-rhythmic bag, alternating swing- feel improv with passages of backbeat funk and melodic / coloristic lines on the cymbals, toms and snare that shadow Jordan's long, twisting saxophone phrases. Recorded live in the studio before an invited audience, A Night In NovemberLive in New Orleans
exudes a warmth that makes one wonder how free improvisation became such an esoteric pursuit in the first place.