Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake: From the River to the Ocean

382

Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake: From the River to the Ocean

By

Sign in to view read count
Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake: From the River to the Ocean
Fred Anderson and Hamid Drake's association goes back three decades. What was once a mentor/prodigy relationship is now a dynamic partnership with chemistry similar to Coltrane's late-career collaboration with Rashied Ali. Back Together Again (Thrill Jockey, 2004) was an intimate sonic conversation between two old friends; for From the River to the Ocean, the septuagenarian club owner and globetrotting percussionist pull together some of Chicago's finest players, and the result is as exploratory and energizing as anything you'll hear this year.

"Planet E isn't a title as much as it is a destination, because the opening track's turbulent beginning feels like the band is building up thrust to lift you up through the atmosphere and out into space. Anderson's fiery tenor exhorts the rhythm section, and vice versa. When the band finally swings into the melody and Jeff Parker launches his first weapons-grade solo, the atmosphere is both positive and volatile, and the trust that links this quintet is as thick as a steel cable. You don't know what's going to happen next, but it's a given that whatever does happen is going to be seriously intense.

"Strut Time is a hard-core blues that would have been a perfect set closer, except using it as the last track would have detracted from the Eastern-influenced music that makes up the rest of the disc. As it stands, "Strut Time is down and dirty and phenomenally cool, with the call-and-answer between Anderson's tenor and Harrison Bankhead's bowing cello raising the tune above the norm.

Bankhead is the date's utility infielder: His ominous piano on "For Brother Thompson brings a dark side to the prayerful tribute to the late trumpeter Malachi Thompson, and Bankhead teams with Josh Abrams to form a twin-bass attack that expands on Ornette Coleman's experiments on Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar, 2006). For the last two tracks, Abrams moves to guimbri—a Moroccan three-string acoustic bass with a resonant property that supports Drake's frame drum on the title track. The guimbri also acts as a tightly tuned drum on the primal closer, "Sakti/Shiva, a spiritual duet that wears Drake's creative fingerprint, even if he doesn't play on the tune.

John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders drive Anderson's tenor like twin jet engines. While Anderson doesn't have the power of his influences, he does have a growling, fervent quality that demands your attention, even in quiet moments like the hypnotic repeating figure at the end of "Sakti/Shiva. Although Drake has reportedly trimmed back his arsenal, he seems to incorporate every percussion instrument he owns onto this disc, taking the energy from quiet to crackling and everywhere in between. His Arabic chants on "Thompson and the title track combine with Anderson's mesmerizing sound to make both pieces a call to the faithful.

This disc comes from the school that's dedicated to freeing your mind, not just educating it. From the River to the Ocean updates a truism: It's the journey and the destination.

Track Listing

Planet E; Strut Time; For Brother Thompson; From the River to the Ocean; Sakti/Shiva.

Personnel

Fred Anderson
saxophone

Fred Anderson: tenor saxophone; Hamid Drake: drums, frame drum (4); Jeff Parker: guitar (1,2,4); Harrison Bankhead: cello (2), piano (3), bass (1,4); Josh Abrams: bass (1-3), guimbiri (4,5).

Album information

Title: From The River To The Ocean | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Thrill Jockey

Comments


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Tidal Currents: East Meets West
Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra
This Celestial Engine
This Celestial Engine
Flax
Martin Arnold
Whisper Not
Paul Kendall

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.