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July/August 2007

William Parker & Hamid Drake
Summer Snow, Volume 2
AUM Fidelity

A duo album by a bassist and drummer might not seem like a good idea, unless you consider that William Parker and Hamid Drake aren’t just a bassist and a drummer—they’re master improvisers with a jazz bias, prone to styles that encompass an assortment of folk traditions. Here, Parker plays bass, of course, but also shakuhachi, doson’ ngoni (a West African guitar), dumbek (a goblet drum of the Middle East and North Africa), talking drum and water bowls. Drake plays drum set, tabla, frame drum and gongs. As is often the case with Parker, his bass playing is inventive but sometimes more than a bit ponderous. Fortunately, the duo spends a great deal of time exploring non-jazz timbres, beats and melodies to extraordinary ends. Parker’s work on the doson’ ngoni dances. His shakuhachi playing is direct and without cliché, as is his percussion work. Drake is equally wonderful. My exposure to traditional Indian and African drumming is limited, but Drake seems locked in to those traditions, bringing them into the realm of jazz-influenced improvisation with great success.

Originally published in July/August 2007
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