Rob Wagner / Hamid Drake / Nobu Ozaki: Trio (2007)
Since the post-Hurricane Katrina exodus from New Orleans, the city's fabled music scene parallels the uncertainties of habitation and commerce issues. Here, modern jazz saxophonist Rob Wagner aligns with a killer rhythm section for a set recorded in December of 2005 at the French Quarter's thoroughly hip Café' Brasil. And while many musicians have scurried about trying to make an earnest living outside the Crescent City, drummer Hamid Drake and bassist Nobu Ozaki trekked to New Orleans six months after Katrina caught everyone off-guard. In effect, Wagner and elder statesman/saxophonist Kidd Jordan have signified the Crescent City's modernist movement. This effort assists with revitalizing the mindset and pursuance of the region's alternative musical stance.
Wagner benefits from all-world drummer Drake's polyrhythmic force and strict attention to nuance and pitch. Here, the multi-reedman's whirling and hypnotic patterns convey his persuasive improvisational faculties. Wagner delves into variable modal exercises amid mood-evoking passages and animated lyricism. On many of these works, the trio's groove-laden jaunts are designed upon bustling pulses and periods of introspection. Wagner is apt to soar skyward via fiery outbursts, where the rhythm section readily ventures into a certain groove or motif. Ultimately, the artist's music is built upon structural components that offer a wide-open improvisational base.
The saxophonist executes a linearly devised and memorable theme during "Penumbra, as Ozaki and Drake alter the pitch and tempo for an anthem-like sojourn. Nonetheless, Wagner's latest trio date projects an all-telling portraiture of a New Orleans musical mind that signifies a potent and distinct alternative to the City's traditional jazz legacy.
Track Listing: Desoparia (They handed out $12 billion cash in Iraq and couldn't even give New Orleans drinking water); Plutino; Where Is Home?; Shock, Awe, Sham, Shame; Childhood Memory; La Madrugada; Freedumb (Aren't you glad to vote in America?); Penumbria.
Personnel: Rob Wagner: clarinet, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Hamid Drake: drum kit, frame drum; Nobu Ozaki: bass.