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A Fireside Chat With Hamid Drake

By Published: February 26, 2003

HD: Michael and I have been playing together for about twelve years now in various situations, particularly with Peter Brotzmann, but also in duet situations. For the past twelve years now, we have been doing in Chicago, we have been hosting these Winter Solstice concerts every year. The phenomenal thing is that we have done it twelve years consecutively, like non-stop every winter solstice. For the last twelve years, we have been doing this and over the years, it has really grown and it brings out people of diverse backgrounds and people with their children. The phenomenal thing is that now, for the last several years, we have been only doing early morning performances starting at six in the morning. We still get packed houses at six in the morning of people coming to see this music to see drums and percussions. The nice things about working with Michael is over the years, we have had time to develop a way of communicating with each other and really to develop our own duet style not only from the Winter Solstice concerts that we do, but also from working together with various ensembles, but particularly with Peter Brotzmann and the Chicago Tentet.

FJ: You also are part of the DKV Trio.

HD: Yeah, I think Ken (Vandermark) and I started working together in '92. The first project we did together was a project called Standards Project and it was Ken, he was doing this project with various artists. It just worked out that the project that Ken and I were doing was with Kent Kessler. From doing that project, the Standards Project, it felt like we had a nice connection, the three of us, so DKV, that was actually the starting point of DKV. Then we started doing gigs together at a few places around Chicago and we were doing things on a weekly basis and that kind of formed, those were the situations that helped solidify the musical relationship of the three of us. DKV is a situation that I really love and appreciate a lot because the nature of how we play together allows us to go in any direction. We have the freedom to explore many different stylistic textures and landscapes. It is not just one particular mode of expression, but we express a lot of different things within that group setting. People seem to appreciate it.

FJ: And Fred Anderson.

HD: There is really, oh, I don't have a lot of words to express the relationship with Fred other than it is definitely, it manifests in many ways. Sometimes it is the relationship of teacher/apprentice or master/apprentice type situation and other times, we are, I can't say equals because Fred is my elder, so he has been around way longer than I have and he has experienced and seen more life than I have experienced, so I can't say equal, but I will say, we definitely share a common, we have a shared love for this music. It is great to see when we travel to different places to see these young audiences really being so appreciative of Fred and really digging and understanding what he is doing. It is such a delight to see.

FJ: And Peter Brotzmann, whom you have worked with in both his Tentet and his Die Like a Dog Quartet.

HD: Yeah, Die Like a Dog, we have the quartet, which was with William Parker, Peter Brotzmann, and Toshinori Kondo, a trumpet player from Japan and myself. Right now, we are mostly concentrating on the Die Like a Dog Trio, which is William Parker, Peter, and myself. The quartet is a really great group, but actually, it was too expensive sometimes to always bring Kondo from Japan. He became very busy doing other projects also. Kondo and I, we still work together in different projects with Bill Laswell for instance. In Europe, Peter speaks about how Chicago was a new starting place for him. Also, he speaks about how it is wonderful for him to be a part of, and to see, and to experience this whole new generation of people that are becoming very much into his music. Of course, some people coming to him through knowing of his son, Casper Brotzmann, but also others from strictly Peter himself, listening to his music, knowing his music, and having an appreciation for his music. It is really delightful for him to see also, this whole new group of people, young Americans that are into his music. It is great to see that.

FJ: You are the most in demand drummer I know of, how often do you get to sleep in your own bed?

HD: (Laughing) The last couple of years, Fred, I have been gone more than I have been home, actually. I just returned home from touring with David Murray because I have been working with David now for the past couple of years. I leave tomorrow to do a couple of things with David and then I am off to start a six day tour of Europe with William Parker and Peter Brotzmann. Then I come home and I will be home for a little while after that. Lately, I have been gone more than I have been home.

FJ: You are in the studio enough with others, but only have a handful under your own name.

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