William Hooker: The Distance Between Us
Synonymous with New York City’s Downtown Scene while frequently touring the college circuit and performing at New York’s famed Knitting Factory, drummer/composer William Hooker is at the forefront of the Avante-Garde. Whether jamming out improvised rock with Sonic Youth’s Lee Renaldo or touring with jazz violinist Billy Bang, Hooker’s ceaseless creative energies are admirable and prove to be quite diverse as illustrated in “The Distance Between Us”, his third studio album among his seventeen recorded releases.
Hooker opens with his composition titled “The Gates”. Here, Hooker affably hums and scats melodies while accompanying himself on drums. An unorthodox approach some might say yet it works rather convincingly as Hooker’s earnestness is quite endearing and at times playful. The Bricusse/Newly composition “Pure Imagination” features lovely swirling chord progressions from pianist Mark Hennen in tandem with Hooker’s colorful cymbal and drum work. Again, the unconventional instrumentation sounds natural and uninhibited. “Because Of You (Dimension 1)” was composed by members of New York’s beloved new wave rock band, Sonic Youth. Here, vocalist Gisburg leads the charge as Hooker and co. parallel a “sound” that more than touches on Sonic Youth’s notable crunch chord and unabashed style of play. On this track, we are treated to loud ferocious and distorted guitar work, presumably by Ed Flynn; although, there are three guitarists listed on the liners with no reference points for soloing or channel placement. “Because Of You (Dimension 1)” is a crash and burn vehicle as things get a bit hectic midstream’ hence, reckless abandon at its best!
Free jazz takes its course with Hooker’s “Sensor Suite”. Unfortunately the track listing on the promo copy does not correlate with this reviewer’s CD player; however, the music clocks in at around 20 minutes. Hooker riles things up and serves as the catalyst for these pieces, which weave in and out, complete with mind blowing and deterministic sax work from Charles Compo and Sabir Mateen. Trumpeter Lewis Barnes settles things down midstream with pensive and warm thematic statements as Hooker stirs the pot with unobtrusive yet ominous drum work. The pace picks up steam, as the ensemble work is multi-textured and significantly vibrant.
Sonic Youth’s “Because of You (Dimension 2)” commences with Gisburg vocalizing over Hooker’s strong backbeat which gives way to more psychedelic, Hendrix-like guitar work. Hooker closes the proceedings with a tasty two-minute drum solo.
“The Distance Between Us” is a well-conceived effort which at times, takes on the semblance of a “Best Of” compilation; however, Hooker isn’t content to sit still or stay within one particular format. Hooker’s diversity is represented in hearty fashion, as this recording should enlist some new ears to William Hooker’s seemingly limitless musical world.