Abbey Radar and John McMinn: Duo from the Heart

Hrayr Attarian BY

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Abbey Radar and John McMinn: Duo from the Heart
Drummer Abbey Rader is a nuanced and expressive percussionist and an adventurous and introspective improviser. His body of work of over two dozen releases is, perhaps, one of the most mystical on today's creative music scene. The sublime Duo from the Heart is one of his more intimate recordings pairing him with long time collaborator pianist and saxophonist John McMinn.

Recorded in McMinn's home, the seven spontaneous performances that comprise the album range from fiery and raw to soulfully contemplative all the while maintaining a vibrant sophistication. The first track "Late Opening" starts off with a crescendo rumble of drums and dense piano chords. The improvisation ebbs and flows with Rader's eloquent polyrhythms bouncing off McMinn's agile and muscular glissandos and crystalline and often ethereal hypnotic cascades. The dynamic dialogue closes on a solemn tone.

From that somber beginning the music flows seamlessly, maintaining a conceptual cohesiveness to the thrilling and poetic conclusion of "Wanting for Nothing." The last piece of the session proceeds from McMinn's haunting and melancholic pianism through Rader's expectant thuds and thrums to form a fantastical sonic tale laden with primal spirituality. With varying tempo their exchanges crash like waves against a dark shore.

In between these two captivating tunes the two musicians explore ideas that emanate from the intrepid tradition of such innovators as saxophonists John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. For instance, on "Acknowledging the Roots" Rader lays down a reserved and transcendent groove while McMinn blows lyrical and meditative lines. This almost magical ambience continues seamlessly to "Freedom with Roots" as Rader lets loose a thunderous and breathtakingly lithe cadence. McMinn extemporizes with wistful passion and delightfully dissonant phrases. Rader's roaring solo bleeds into McMinn's sinewy wails and incandescent flood of notes.

As expected from Rader and his associates, Duo from the Heart is a stimulating and magnificent record. McMinn's ingenuity on both his instruments is a perfect match to Rader's own virtuosity and artistic brilliance. More than just a "blowing session," this work is a captivating and provocative meeting of minds and talents that is simultaneously intriguing, disturbing and inspirational.

Track Listing

Late Opening; Deep Seeing; Skimming Over & Forgiving; Acknowledging the Roots; Freedom With Roots; Prayers at the Wall; Wanting for Nothing.


Abbey Rader: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

John McMinn: piano, tenor saxophone.

Album information

Title: Duo from the Heart | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Abray Productions

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