Rhythmic virtuoso Hamid Drake and reeds innovator Mats Gustafsson deliver a jaw-dropping and all-too-brief set recorded in Chicago on Oct. 19, 1995, the day of Don Cherry’s death.
One of the few live records to make this listener earnestly wish she’d been in attendance, Drake and Gustafsson’s meeting is a perfect example of the phenomenal synergy possible between two musicians. The two in question are an ideal match; both temper the muscularity of their playing with sensitivity and musical sophistication. Neither artist allows the other the option of sitting on his heels at any point; this recording is challenging, intense, and enjoyable from start to finish.
Plus, it seems like they’re having fun; have a listen to the frenetic, playful second piece, wherein Gustafsson presumably forgoes his saxophones for a bit to yelp and whoop in response to Drake’s inspired djembe playing. Gustafsson, frequently touted as a "rising star" of European jazz, is in my opinion rarely matched among powerhouse reedsmen in creativity. Meanwhile, the tireless and infallible Drake delievers one of the more visceral and thrilling percussion solos to make it to records. This is improvisation, and it rocks, to boot; my favorite live record of the year. Only 600 copies entered the world, so you know what that means.
- Susie Jae, ON AIR magazine, WKCR 89.9 FM (New York)
01. 1 04:53
02. 2 06:27
03. 3 17:30
04. 4 11:09
Record Label: Okka Disk
Recorded at Urbis Orbis, Chicago, IL, October 19, 1995
Produced by: Bruno Johnson
Recorded by: Jim O’Rourke
Engineered by: John McCortney/Airwave
Cover art: William Mohline
Hamid Drake — percussion
Mats Gustafsson — reeds