Home » Jazz Articles » Two Previously Unreleased Gems from Abbey Rader's Catalogue


Multiple Reviews

Two Previously Unreleased Gems from Abbey Rader's Catalogue


Sign in to view read count
These two releases demonstrate the continuum of Rader's artistic vision over the past two decades.
Drummer Abbey Rader is a restless improviser and a master of Eastern spirituality. His artistry and devotional practice are inextricable from one another. This union of meditative philosophy and spontaneous creativity gives Rader's style its uniqueness and his recordings their absorbing quality. In 2023 Rader released two live sessions on his own label that were recorded in 1999 and 2017 respectively. The time difference between the two reflects Rader's growth and evolving sound as well as the persistence of his unabated enthusiasm.

Abbey Rader and Davey Williams
In One Is All

The earlier date In One is All is a duo with the late guitarist Davey Williams from an appearance at Eyedrum in Atlanta on September 3, 1999. It is a single 52.5-minute track that nevertheless is divided into a few parts punctuated by audience applause and a shift in the mood. For instance, two thirds of the way in, Williams concludes a relatively serene passage with a quote from The Beatles' "Hey Jude" to the delight of the listeners. Elsewhere the pair presents a singularly psychedelic extemporization on trombonist Juan Tizol's "Caravan."

The music here is different from Rader's work from the past decade or so as it is denser and more angular. The riotous repartee starts with an expectant mood of roaring percussion and haunting, fiery guitar lines. There are no carefully placed pauses, instead the two musicians push each other into an abstract and cinematic dissonance that captivates and thrills. There is a lot of exalted solemnity to the performance specially during the quieter periods. Rader uses gongs and bells that Williams matches with his resonant and distorted guitar strings and human voice-like tones. Hypnotic and moving, the uplifting melodies that result are ethereal yet relevant, earthbound by Rader's percolating beats while maintaining a sacred mysticism.

On this provocative album Rader and Williams are well matched in their artistic vision. The multilayered In One is All is a stimulating and emotive piece that rewards intellectually and viscerally. It also is good for the soul.

Abbey Rader Trio and Kidd Jordan
Live at the Subtropics 23

The second set, Live at the Subtropics 23 is from the Audiotheque Miami Beach, Florida on March 3, 2017. Rader is joined by his usual trio, saxophonist John McMinn and bassist Kyle Motl as well as frequent collaborator, the late saxophonist Kidd Jordan. The music here is more open-ended and contemplative yet with the same soulfulness and passion as the earlier disc.

The "The Gateless Gates," for instance, opens with Rader's somber percolating beats and Motl's con arco, chant-like, refrains. This sets the mystical mood for the rest of the improvisation. Over the expectant ambience, the saxophones take turns with wailing, bluesy notes. The dramatic tension increases as McMinn and Jordan engage in an urgent and meandering dialogue. The fiery solos blaze serpentine trails through the restless rhythmic framework. The riotous four-way conversation concludes with a collective cry that fades into quietude.

Meanwhile "Anytime, Anywhere" is more angular and crystalline. Rader and Motl's vamps create a dynamic and stimulating atmosphere. The saxophones enter with short, crisp phrases setting ablaze the simmering cadence of this passionate performance. McMinn and Jordan are well matched as they duel with gusto and abandon, allowing their muscular lines to clash, embrace, and create something that is more than the mere sum of the two. Rader's breathtaking polyrhythms evolve and transform with lithe agility and gritty elegance. The quartet concludes the tune with hints of melancholy.

"Intrinsically, There Is No I" is a four way, otherworldly repartee from the start. Each musician contributes a stream-of-consciousness monologue that together form a logical and intriguing extemporization with a strong spiritual core. Carefully placed silent pauses enhance this exalted feeling. As the group interplay ebbs and flows, a surprising serenity ensues despite the provocative dissonance of the music.

Here yet again, what stands out is the seamless camaraderie within Rader's core group and between the trio and Jordan. It is this synergy that gives cohesiveness to these individual flights of imagination and makes this dynamic concert more than the sum of its parts.

These two releases demonstrate the continuum of Rader's artistic vision over the past two decades. In that way, they fit seamlessly into the drummer's deeply personal oeuvre.

Tracks and Personnel

In One is All

Tracks: In One is All

Personnel: Abbey Rader: drums, gongs, percussion; Davey Williams: electric guitar

Live at the Subtropics 23

Tracks: Anytime, Anywhere; The Gateless Gates; Intrinsically, There Is No I.

Personnel: Abbey Rader: drums, percussion; John McMinn: alto & tenor sax; Kyle Motl: contrabass; Kidd Jordan: tenor sax.

Post a comment

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.

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.



Mendoza - Hoff - Revels
Trabajadores De Energi
Daniel Carter, Adriana Camacho, Federico Ughi
The Song Inside the Tune
Michael Costantino
Ronny Wiesauer


On the record

Vibes on a Breath
Ted Piltzecker
Jonathan Karrant
Brazilian Match
Luiz Millan
Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio

Get more of a good thing!

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