Drummer Leaders: Ted Sirota, Tim Kuhl and Nasheet Waits
Three young drummers bring their own distinctive rhythmic cast and musical concept to these projects, all put together from at least elements of working bands. Their approaches range from Ted Sirota's open, rolling propulsion and emphasis on ensemble concept to Tim Kuhl's nods toward jazz-rock and avant-fusion on to Nasheet Waits' freer time sensibility.
Seize the Time is the fifth album from Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls, a Chicago quintet advancing ideas promulgated by the politically-conscious late '50s-early '60s bands of Charles Mingus and Max Roach or Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, but embracing such later agit-prop music as British rock band The Clash. In fact, the opening track is a piece from that band, "Clampdown," given rolling momentum by Sirota and bassist Jake Vinsel, a declamatory theme statement from saxophonists Geof Bradfield (tenor) and Greg Ward (alto) contrasted against the rocking guitar of Dave Miller, with the theme taking hymnal overtones after a round of solos. Time signature shifts as rhythmic acceleration and retard are deftly and tightly handled on Mingus' "Free Cell Block F, 'Tis Nazi USA." Handclaps join drums in the romping Caetano Veloso samba celebrating Brazil's slave emancipation day, "13 de Maio." Stephen Foster's "Hard Times (Come Again No More)" is updated with semi-rubato drum rolls and bass clarinet (Bradfield). And Miriam Makeba's "Polo Mze" is offered in two parts, one with a jaunty, timbale-like beat, the other with rock backbeats and polyphonal soloing. Originals from bandmembers run the gamut from the leader's cowbell-fueled "Killa Dilla," employing overdubbed guitar and electric bass, to Vinsel's miniature suite "Little D," which moves through swing and calypso rhythms.
The Brooklyn-based Tim Kuhl Group on King, like Rebel Souls, also features guitar(s), horns (Jon Irabagon, tenor sax, and on some tracks, Rick Parker's trombone) and no piano. Six full-fledged originals by the leader are broken up by three under-a-minute interludes from, in order, electric guitar (Nir Felder), solo sax and bass (Aidan Carroll) with trombone. The main tracks, save for the ballad "Kiss of Death," are heavy on either backbeats or aggressive rhythms partaking of fusion or postbop with a soulful shuffle. The ensemble moments are looser, more rhythm-focused, the solos longer and more rockstar narcissistic. The results are best when the energy level is highest, as on the uptempo mashup "The Opposition" and concluding fast rockbop "Stars."
Equality isn't only the title but also the guiding concept on Nasheet Waits' new album; greatly aiding that notion is that the core of this quartet is a trio with which Waits has been playing for some time: pianist Jason Moran and bassist Tarus Mateen (operating under Moran's leadership as The Bandwagon). Joining them is Kansas City alto saxophonist Logan Richardson. Waits pushes the interactive vibe of Bandwagon even further here, as no one instrument ever dominates for long, all paying much more than lip service to equality. There's a free-floating feel to the time and rhythms, as Waits and Mateen suggest a pulse or polyrhythmic pulses, without ever insisting on a steady beat. From the opening number, Andrew Hill's "Tough Love"Waits played in the late pianist's bandwith its haunting theme voiced by Richardson's surprisingly dry-toned alto to the emphatically collective ruminations of Waits' closer, "Kush," this quartet is in loose, fluid sync. Highlights include Jaki Byard's bop dedication "Mrs. Parker of K.C.," shifting from open time to driving 4/4; the doubling down of beats (including toms) of Moran's "The Summit" and sly Monkish gestures of his "Snake Stance"; the tension-release of Waits' "Hesitation" and vivid bounce and second-line feel of Mateen's "King Hassan," including the calypso vibe of the sax solo. But what's most impressive about this CD is the intricate sophistication of the group interplay.
Tracks and Personnel
Seize the Time
Tracks: Clampdown; 13 de Maio; Free Cell Block F, 'Tis Nazi USA; Hard Times (Come Again No More); Killa Dilla; Tollway; Viva Max!; J.Y.D.; Polo Mze Pt. 1; Polo Mze, Pt. 2; Little D; The Keys to Freedom.
Personnel: Ted Sirota: drums; Geof Bradfield: tenor sax: bass clarinet; Greg Ward: alto sax; Dave Miller: guitar; Jake Vinsel: acoustic and electric bass.
Tracks: King; I; The Defender of Time; Phantasm; II; The Opposition; III; Kiss of Death; Stars.
Personnel: Tim Kuhl: drums; Nir Felder: Ryan Mackstaller: guitars; Jon Irabagon: tenor sax; Aidan Carroll: bass; Rick Parker: trombone.
Tracks: Tough Love; Shine; Hesitation; Mrs. Parker of K.C.' The Summit; Emil Danenberg; Snake Stance; King Hassan; Kush.
Personnel: Nasheet Waits: drums; Logan Richardson: alto sax; Jason Moran: piano; Tarus Mateen: bass.