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Solo Percussion: Ibarra, Bennington, Centazzo & Drury

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Susie Ibarra
Drum Sketches
Innova
2008


Jimmy Bennington
Jazz Kaleidoscope: Solo Drums Live at On The House
That Swan!
2006


Andrea Centazzo
Fragments 2
Ictus
2007


Andrew Drury
Renditions (Solos 2004-2007)
Creative Sources
2007




The history of jazz is a study in extended technique. In the case of the drums, a gradual ascent from the earliest oom-pah bass drum to the syncopated snare of Krupa, the driving ride of Roach and Haynes, to the white wash of Susie Ibarra's brushes and Andrew Drury's breath on a puckered snare. As otherworldly as these additions to the canon sound, they are vital contributions to the jazz spirit of pure innovation.

Drum Sketches begins with "Binalig," a traditional Philippine piece for kulintang—a mallet instrument comprised of a series of non-tempered gongs—that introduces a lilting vibe that permeates the album's 10 tracks. On drum set, kulintang and various percussion instruments, Susie Ibarra's mostly improvised performances evoke vast landscapes and bustling city streets, moments of reflection and jubilant celebration. "Drum Sketch 2" begins with what sounds like muffled eighth notes on the strings of an electric guitar. The rhythm persists under the metallic swish of cymbals rubbing together and a series of slippery, jaunty rhythms on snare. Somehow, this ethereal improv leads perfectly into the middle of a Philippine street, bustling with cheering crowds, traffic and the insistent marching time of Ibarra's snare and a chorus of bells and percussion. Field recordings in New York and the Philippines compliment Ibarra throughout the album and add to the sonic vastness that the listener senses while seemingly floating above it.

Jimmy Bennington proved a sensitive, swinging foil to trombonist Julian Priester on 2007's Portraits and Silhouettes and on Jazz Kaleidoscope he brings the same qualities to a set of solo improvisations. Solidly grounded in tradition, Bennnington is at his best when his pliant swing is a reference point from which to plumb the depths of a sound or concept. He does just that on "Churchbells of Willisau," a piece that finds him exploring the sonic capabilities of tapped cymbals against a slow, simmering counterpoint of sizzling ride and high-hat punctuations. The performance builds, almost imperceptibly, and arcs to a whispered conclusion of scratched snare and ringing overtones. Bennington is deeply indebted to Max Roach and at times, the spirit seems to overwhelm the drummer. As dynamic and surprising as he can be —"Colors and Sounds" alludes to Roach's galvanic approach, but as a conduit for Bennington's unique approach—the drummer's playing on the title track comes off as derivative and, at 11-plus minutes, detracts from the album's moments of glowing invention.

There's something starkly brutal about the opening cymbal hits of Fragments 2, a collection of improvisations by Andrea Centazzo. The overtones ring out and jaggedly crash, forming a wall of naked dissonance that is as unrelenting as a Krzysztof Penderecki concerto. The sheer violence of this introduction gives way to dulcet, but ultimately hollow strains of electronic tones, stripped of harmonic context and floating over a sonic void. The relative peace is periodically intruded upon by brief, grating metallic sections and increasingly frantic bells that build to the conclusion of the 30-minute piece. Centazzo recorded the music that comprises Fragments 2 between 1976 and 1985 and his evolution is apparent in the juxtaposition of pieces. The epic opener from a mid '70s performance in Milan is followed by a brief, fascinating improvisation recorded in Brussels in 1985. Centazzo's frantic, resonant drum beat pounds in the foreground for two minutes before a glinting, synthesized triad sounds and begins a painstaking ascent. As the notes creep upward to their surprisingly consonant conclusion, Centazzo's beat is augmented by cymbal slashes as it morphs into a glowing monolith.

Andrew Drury's solo work came about by sheer necessity. Working with others, the drummer felt compelled to explore techniques that would be overwhelmed by another musician. On Renditions, recorded between 2004 and 2007, Drury employs a vast array of extended techniques, whispers, scratches, finger slides and scrapes, that straddle the very boarder of audibility. "Extraordinary Rendition" progresses from ethereal notes on a scratched cymbal to insistent metallic tapping, which dominates the piece's final minutes and evokes prisoners rapping on pipes. Drury's improvisational forays include a brief exploration of a spoon in a cereal bowl and a piece of aluminum foil rubbed across his snare drum in this loosely bound, impressionistic set.


Tracks and Personnel

Drum Sketches

Tracks: Drum Sketch 1-10.

Personnel: Susie Ibarra: percussion.

Jazz Kaleidoscope: Solo Drums Live at On The House

Tracks: Mallets (for Walt Dickerson); Jazz Kaleidoscope; Churchbells of Willisau; Softshoe (for Enyard); Colours And Sounds; Susanna; Favorite Chairs; Recurrence.

Personnel: Jimmy Bennington: percussion.

Fragments 2

Tracks: Fragments 1-11; Fragments 21-27

Personnel: Player Name: Andrea Centazzo: percussion.

Renditions (Solos 2004-2007)

Tracks: the school of the americas; exhalations; more of everything; touchdown of the century; extraordinary rendition; my favorite cereal bowl; i would also like to mention aluminium; from a WW2 veteran's garage; other priorities.

Personnel: Andrew Drury: percussion.


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