493

Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake: From The River To The Ocean

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Expanding on a musical relationship that stretches over thirty years, From the River to the Ocean finds tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson and drummer Hamid Drake, joined by three fellow Chicagoans, in a carefree mood. Guitarist Jeff Parker and bassists Harrison Bankhead and Josh Abrams join the duo on a lively set that encapsulates the highly conversational nature of today's best avant-garde jazz hailing from the Windy City.

Anderson and Drake's previous album on Thrill Jockey, 2004's Back Together Again, documented their first studio collaboration. Bolstered by tight, intuitive ensemble interplay, this set embellishes their core sound, while maintaining the effortless delivery of their previous session.

As founder of the Velvet Lounge and a charter member of the AACM, Anderson has attained iconic status in the Chicago jazz scene. His angular yet lyrical tenor phrasing is instantly recognizable, whether spiraling out barbed ribbons of notes or easing back with soulful restraint. When supported by Drake's flowing, polyrhythmic grooves, they make a sublime pair.

With Jeff Parker's postmodern versatility and the superlative bass work of Bankhead and Abrams (who both double on extra instruments), the ensemble sets forth with a broad palette of sound at its disposal. Over five lengthy pieces, the quartet spans a vast expanse of genres and styles. "Planet E" is an Afrobeat-influenced post bop burner, complete with a coiling guitar solo from Parker that complements Anderson's stout tenor, culminating in an effusive three-way dialogue between Abrams, Bankhead and Drake. "Strut Time" is an epic surging blues, with lengthy solo excursions from all players while spotlighting Anderson's gruff, emotive lyricism.

The impressionistic modal journey of "For Brother Thompson" (dedicated to the late trumpeter Malachi Thompson) recalls the emotional power of late-period Coltrane; Bankhead's ominous piano chords and Drake's Arabic chanting resonate over a rubato groove.

The exotic title track and "Shakti/Shiva" both feature Abrams' hypnotic, sinewy guimbiri (a bass-like North African lute). On the former, Parker hammers out kaleidoscopic shards, Bankhead bows his strings with tenacious resolve, and Drake delivers a steady frame drum pulse, weaving an intricate harmonic tapestry for Anderson's brawny tenor sax testimonials.

The resonant, mature beauty found on From the River to the Ocean proves that contemporary free jazz doesn't always have to burn white-hot to generate emotional heat; simmering intensity can yield the same results.


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

Personnel: 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).

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


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Groove Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Avalon" CD/LP/Track Review Avalon
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "April" CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Storm" CD/LP/Track Review Storm
by Jim Olin
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "N.O. Escape" CD/LP/Track Review N.O. Escape
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read "Tyrant Lizard" CD/LP/Track Review Tyrant Lizard
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 2, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.