William Parker and Hamid Drake: Volume 1: Piercing the Veil
A common myth says that holy men must speak in tongues. Take a quick six-minute tour through "Chatima," the second tune on Piercing the Veil, and you'll learn that these two high priests of free improvisation can rock 'n' roll with the best of 'em. Hamid Drake, the eight-armed bandit of jazz percussion, starts the tune off with a cymbal-driven beat. William Parker enters on arco bass, punching out riffs and playing offbeat counterpoint. As the tune builds in intensity, Drake adds more and more snare action. The bassist fires off broad sweeping arcs of pulsing sound, and the drummer joins with him in a colorful dialogue on snare and toms. Once Parker has propelled the duo into outer space with rapid-fire treble scratching, they meld together for a rockin' groove and shoot right back down to earth.
Of course, there's much more to Piercing the Veil. This disc distinguishes itself by taking one of the most coherent rhythm sections in the history of improvised music away from the rest of the band. Left to their own devices, these two masters seize the opportunity to expand a shared vision. William Parker's bass playing has always had an intense rhythmic edge, and Hamid Drake's drumming has always vibrated with color. On several tracks, Parker tries his hand at a number of unusual instruments: the balafone, the shakuhachi, and the dumbekto name three particularly interesting examples. One has the sense from listening to these explorations that this is a tribal ensemble, in the rawest sense. These two players have come together to create sounds, images, and ideas that transcend time and place. Even when they rock 'n' roll.
Track Listing: Black Cherry; Chatima; Heavenly Walk; Japeru; Nur al Anwar; Piercing the Veil; Loom Song; Chaung Tzu's Dream; Bodies Die/Spirits Live.
Personnel: Hamid Drake: drums, bells, tablas, frame drum; William Parker: bass, balafone, slit drum, shakuhachi, bombard, dumbek.