The Gift is a trio of New York-area improvisers: drummer William Hooker, trumpeter Roy Campbell and violinist Jason Hwang. The album consists of a single hour-long free improvisation, recorded live in medium-fidelity at a concert in Takoma Park, Md. Those who know Hooker for his ultrahigh-energy work might be surprised at what they hear throughout the performance’s first half: a sensitive colorist, interacting almost diffidently with Hwang’s pointillist violin and Campbell’s jagged trumpet. The roaring press-rolls and deafening toms that often characterize Hooker’s playing also obscure the definition of which he’s capable. Absent the loud volume, we hear an interactive, dynamically prescient percussionist. He cuts loose later, but by that time we’ve gotten a clear and attractive look at peacefulness beneath the disquiet, making his eruptions all the more effective.
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