Drummer Abbey Rader and saxophonist & pianist John McMinn have forged a seamless camaraderie and sublime creative synergy over the course of 30-plus years. In March of 2020, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, they were obliged to stop performing together. Sixteen months later they reunited in Miami for a poignant and moving set of entirely improvised music which Rader released under the title Two As One.
From the start, the duo sets a distinctly ethereal mood which permeates the entire album. "Rejoiceful Reunion" features McMinn's smoldering elegiac saxophone which weaves a serpentine course around Rader's vibrant yet solemn polyrhythms. McMinn's reverberating honks and Rader's thundering beats complement one another in a passionate exaltation of a primal incorporeality.
The title track, meanwhile, brims with a melancholic lyricism. Rustling drum beats and incandescent, bluesy saxophone lines engage in a dynamic and complex dance which is thrillingly original yet remains rooted in tradition. The fluid course of musical ideas from one artist to the other exhibits breathtaking agility and throbs with deep sensitivity and intelligence.
Similarly, "To the Masters Before" is an extemporization which bridges the gap between the present moment with its brilliant spontaneity and past heritage with its historical significance . McMinn blows fiery phrases and emotive refrains with hints of angularity while exploring original motifs. Rader's energetic rumble and complex percussive flourishes add a sophisticated organicity to the piece. The result is quite melodic despite its intensity and occasional flirtation with dissonance.
The introspective and contemplative "Gone Gone Gone Beyond" is one of the handful of tracks that feature McMinn on the piano. His cascading notes fall in mesmerizing patterns, and chime and echo against Rader's sparse beats. The drummer's textured, muscular cadence also drives McMinn's hypnotic pianism. The superimposition of McMinn's dense chords over Rader's swishing susurrations builds a haunting ambience.
Two As One is much more than a commemoration of a friendship and an artistic alliance. It is a celebration of a universal human experience, and a paean to a transcendent mystery. As with Rader's previous releases, this captivating album reflects not only the ingenuity of innovative improvisers, it also mirrors Rader's own profound spirituality which imbues his life both as a musician and as a human being.
Rejoiceful Reunion; Inner Vision; Diss & Dass; To the Masters Before; Defending the Gate; Rhythm of My Birth;
Repentance; Form Is Emptiness; Gone Gone Gone Beyond; Awake So Be It.
A young artist exhibits his work for the first time. An art critic is in attendance. The critic says, "would you like my opinion on your work?" "Yes," says the artist. "It's worthless," says the critic. The artist replies "I know, but tell me anyway."