All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Rob Wagner / Hamid Drake / Nobu Ozaki: Trio

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
With time to reflect on the Katrina tragedy, jazz artists with ties to New Orleans have been emerging to tell their stories. Kidd Jordan, William Parker, Hamid Drake, Kali Z. Fasteau, James "Blood" Ulmer and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band are among those who have committed their concerns to tape. Accompanied by drummer Hamid Drake and bassist Nobu Ozaki, saxophonist (and New Orleans native) Rob Wagner delivers his own take on the event.

As a creative modernist with regular gigs in the Big Easy, Wagner's mere presence invalidates the prevailing stereotype of New Orleans as nothing more than a bastion of jazz traditionalism. While Wagner has favored the trio format over the years, this is his first session with Drake and Ozaki.

Wagner's aesthetic skirts the craggy extremism of free jazz without ever falling headlong into the abyss. Stretching meters and phrases on his array of horns, he employs myriad effects and extended techniques with expressive vocal intensity.

Favoring his stout, dark-toned tenor, Wagner's inventive phrasing incorporates flutter tongue effects, false fingerings, multiphonics and trills, all augmenting the harmonic conception of his animated statements. His soprano work is vigorous, but not histrionic. On clarinet, he occasionally invokes the Hassidic linearity of his other regular gig, The New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, while plying a shadowy, mysterious tone.

Drake's mesmerizing harmonic permutations are essential foundations for the trio, whether summoning invigoratingly tuneful phrases on a traditional drum kit or generating hypnotic ethnic patterns on frame drum. His interaction with Ozaki is similar to his work with his closest associate, bassist William Parker. Ozaki proves a worthy partner, parrying Drake's complex polyrhythms with a sinewy, melodic foundation and a spry capacity for modulating tempos.

From the reserved bluesy meditation of "Plutino," the swirling exotic travelogue "Where Is Home?" and the roiling free bop of "Shock, Awe, Shame" to the supple balladry of "La Madrugada" and the abstruse funk of "Childhood Memory," the trio explores a mix of post bop influenced styles and genres with a colorful, nuanced palette. Despite the tragedy it recalls, this trio effort is another winning document of the continuing viability of New Orleans.

Visit Rob Wagner on the web.

Track Listing: Desoparia (They handed out $12 billion cash in Iraq and couldn't even give New Orleans drinking water); Plutino; Where Is Home?; Shock, Awe, Sham, Shame; Childhood Memory; La Madrugada; Freedumb (Aren't you glad to vote in America?); Penumbria.

Personnel: Rob Wagner: clarinet, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Hamid Drake: drum kit, frame drum; Nobu Ozaki: bass.

Title: Trio | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Valid Records


comments powered by Disqus



Rob Wagner

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles


Valid Records

Lost Children

Lost Children

Valid Records

Walking, Crying, Laughing, Running

Walking, Crying,...

Valid Records


Related Articles

Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Denmark I Was Born CD/LP/Track Review
In Denmark I Was Born
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Dreams of Belonging CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983 CD/LP/Track Review
In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read A Year Ago Today CD/LP/Track Review
A Year Ago Today
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Ravensburg CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Promethean" CD/LP/Track Review Promethean
by David A. Orthmann
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "Small Pieces" CD/LP/Track Review Small Pieces
by James Nadal
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Songs We Like" CD/LP/Track Review Songs We Like
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 2, 2017
Read "The Django Experiment I & II" CD/LP/Track Review The Django Experiment I & II
by Peter Jurew
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "Tether" CD/LP/Track Review Tether
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 12, 2017
Read "Ravensburg" CD/LP/Track Review Ravensburg
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018