, William Parker
, Hamid Drake
Magic Triangle Series
Bezanson Recital Hall
UMass Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts
Febrary 26, 2009
During one of the most tempestuous winters in memory, the twentieth season of the Magic Triangle Series at UMass Amherst began with the highly energetic performance of the Kidd Jordan Trio: Kidd Jordan on tenor, William Parker on upright bass and flute, Hamid Drake on drums, percussion and frame drum.
The producer of the series, Glenn Siegel, announced the players and prepared the audience to expect one set. After rousing applause, the players came to the stage from behind the back wall. A hush blanketed the hall. With his left arm hugging the neck of the bass to steady it, Parker meanwhile applied resin to his bow. Drake settled on his stool in back of his drum set and adjusted his array of drumsticks. Moistening the reed in his mouthpiece by inserting it in his mouth several times, Jordan readied himself to play his glistening silver tenor saxophone.
Soon, Parker was bowing in a slow back and forth motion; Drake used his mallets to expand the timbre of the bass. As Parker deepened the bass tone, Jordan repeated the same mid-range note sharply. The improvisation was beginning. The music was in the hands of three inimitable musicians whose group alliance demonstrated and substantiated the notion of spontaneous improvisation for anyone who might question its occurrence and effect.
As Jordan pressed through, fingering up and down the register of his horn, Drake fell easily into his fluid address of his drum set. Parker dropped his bow into its carryall on the outside of the bass and plowed into pizzicatos. Drake flipped his mallets to their handles and used them to snap the snare and strike upwards on the hi-hats. The dance-like motion of his arms simulated the image of sound waves that resonated from his actions. He moved from snare to tom to snare to cymbal to hi-hat to form a continuous circle. Parker's endless energetic plucking did nothing but ground the three. All of Jordan's fingers wiggled their way up and down the sax, modifying the notes without imposing any indeterminate fluidity.
Jordan repeatedly reset the pitches in the central register of the horn and jousted with stop-and-go blurts to plug into any spaces in the sound that surrounded him. Then as the bass was plucked more rapidly and the drum sticks flew, Jordan charged through to the highest register of the tenor and, just as quickly, dropped immediately down. That deep tone catapulted him to a register leading to a piercing of the air, extremely high pitches alternating with low tones, before he adopted a slower tempo. Throughout the entire climb, Drake played the drums with a constant insistence, his sticks the extensions of the lithe arabesques outlined by the dancer-like movement of his arms. Parker was no less assiduous as he plucked the bass strings.