Hamid Drake at the Sons d'hiver Festival, Paris
Carter stepped up for what proved one of the evening's outstanding solos. Straightaway Drake meshed with the metre of his tenor line. Whinnying tenor outbursts combined with percussive keypad pattering, before a passage of delicate wavering multiphonics gradually became more urgent and merged into the wriggling horn ether. After a lyrical excursion from Ward, Drake returned behind his trap set and extracted a majestic reprise of the theme from the sparring horns.
The third piece featured Drake reciting a melodic Sufi declamation, accompanying himself on frame drum, with Dawkins' tenor playing a quiet obligato replete with split-tone cries in support. As the spiritually yearning chant ceased, the horn commentary became more insistent, and Drake hit a dervish rhythm, summoning the other reedmen back on stage. Dawkins essayed passionate upper-register screams over the horn chorus, before drawing to a tender conclusion.
The packed theatre exploded in approval as a delighted Drake led his brothers-in-music in an appreciative bow. The unabated applause was sufficient to call the group back for a short encore with the free-associating saxophones corralled by Drake's emphatic beats. What more could a captivated listener ask for? Well, there could have been more scope for exploring further some of the duos and trios within the line- up. But in the end this improvised, inspired music is about what is, not what could be. So, let's hope hectic schedules don't mean we have to wait too long for further uplifting experiences from Bindu.