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JT Editor Evan Haga Introduces the November 2014 Issue

The power of two

Some of my favorite JazzTimes pieces throughout the years haven’t been profiles or music reviews but rather the more thematic and conceptual features-for instance, Geoffrey Himes’ 2013 article on the history of the bass clarinet (which, it’s worth noting, recently earned its author and outlet a prestigious ASCAP Deems Taylor Award).

Over the past summer, as I was taking in various gigs and sifting through stacks of promo CDs, I kept thinking about bigger-picture topics that might do well in this drum-themed November issue. At the Umbria Jazz Festival in July, I heard pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s Volcan and it hit me. The quartet features Giovanni Hidalgo and Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez on percussion and drum kit, respectively-two Eddie Palmieri alumni who create simmering excitement without ever seeming to get in each other’s way or overpower the group. It was a remarkable hookup to witness live, and it made me realize how many great groups, in and out of Latin jazz, have employed a kit-plus-percussion setup in the rhythm section. More important, it made me want to learn about how this particular rapport works-its strengths and potential pitfalls. So I assigned Thomas Conrad a feature detailing both the history and theory behind these relationships, from Chano Pozo and Kenny Clarke through fusion and into contemporary teams like Daniel Sadownick and Antonio Sanchez.

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