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William Parker & Hamid Drake: First Communion/Piercing the Veil and Summer Snow

Jeff Stockton By

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William Parker and Hamid Drake
First Communion and Piercing the Veil: Volume 1 Complete
Aum Fidelity

William Parker and Hamid Drake
Summer Snow: Volume 2
Aum Fidelity

When bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake went into the studio to record as a duo in 2000, they weren't quite yet established as a rhythm section for the ages (although they had worked together in Peter Brötzmann's Die Like a Dog quartet). Piercing the Veil was among the first of a remarkable run of releases that continues to this day, making every Parker/Drake project an event. A couple of days prior to the Piercing the Veil session, they set up in "AUM HQ (AUM Fidelity label president Steven Joerg's Brooklyn apartment) in front of an audience of around 80 for a quasi-rehearsal/dry run. Called First Communion, the complete 88-minute concert has been paired with the seminal studio CD in a sort of 'Deluxe Edition'. Parker and Drake kick off with percussion: frame drum, tabla, slit drum and dumbek. In Part II, Parker switches to Japanese wooden flute and builds momentum until he's scream-singing into its blowhole. Part III delivers 50+ minutes of uncommonly captivating and varied bass-drum interplay. When the applause finally comes up, you know you've had a rare experience. First Communion is a spontaneously creative and intimate epic. Parker and Drake may call the contrabass and trap drums their primary instruments, but 2001's Piercing the Veil offered the full range of the duo's musical vocabulary, including a showcase for Parker's affection for exotic double-reeds. It was also subtitled Volume 1 and six years later, we have the much- anticipated Volume 2: Summer Snow. This time out, the duo seems more under Drake's influence, as Parker puts aside the buzzing bombard (save for 30 seconds) in favor of tinkling doson'ngoni and whirring water bowls. Volume 1 was tighter, shorter and more emphatic; Volume 2 is more peaceful, patient and meditative, drawing heavily on Drake's hypnotic percussion work with Adam Rudolph in Hu Vibrational and his annual winter solstice performances in Chicago with Michael Zerang. The pace picks up for the drum 'n' bass workouts of "Anaya Dancing and "Konte , but they're almost out of place. Overall, Summer Snow is an example of two masters reaching toward serenity by making music.

Tracks and Personnel

First Communion and Piercing the Veil: Volume 1 Complete

Tracks: First Communion I, II, III; Piercing the Veil: Black Cherry; Chatima; Heavenly Walk; Japeru; Nur al Anwar; Piercing the Veil; Loom Song; Chaung Tzu's Dream; Bodies Die/Spirits Live

Personnel: William Parker: bass, balafon, shakuhachi, bombard, dumbek, slit drum; Hamid Drake: drums, tabla, frame drum, bells

Summer Snow: Volume 2

Tracks: Awake, Arise; Sky; Earth; Pahos; Sifting the Dust; Edge of Everything; Traces of the Beloved; Anaya Dancing; Konte; Faces; Hadra

Personnel: William Parker: doson'ngoni, shakuhachi, dumbek, talking drum, water bowls, bass; Hamid Drake: tabla, frame drum, gongs, drums


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