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January/February 1998

Ray Anderson/Mark Helias/Gerry Hemingway
BassDrumBone (Hence the Reason)

BassDrumBone is the synergetic threesome of bassist Mark Helias, drummer Gerry Hemingway and trombonist Ray Anderson. Three inspired savants, the trio turns the inside out, and the outside in. One might call the energized results "postmodern" in that what typically unfolds is a stylistic pastiche embracing everything from New Orleans traditional to the Harmolodics of Ornette Coleman.

As to the former, check out "Hence the Real Reason," where at moments Anderson's slippery slides and Hemingway's street beat abstractions evoke a mind-bending "X Files" Crescent City spatio-temporal warp. As for the latter, there's "For Don C" in which the trio's open-ended strolling recalls the ramblin' of pocket-trumpeter Cherry. Equally impressive is "Fictionary," a stop-start, rubato-esque drama constructed from carefully modulated group dynamics and Anderson's bravura intervallic leaps. What's amazing is how warm and appealing and yet excitingly odd these tracks are. Like sound-seekers Ornette Coleman and Bill Frisell, BassDrumBone while estranging the familiar, also accentuates the positive.

Originally published in January/February 1998
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