Monday, December 22, 2008

Raoul Bjorkenheim, William Parker & Hamid Drake - dmg @ The Stone, Vol. 2 (DMG/ARC, 2008)

Anyone who follows the Downtown Music Gallery's entertaining newsletters knows that they enjoy progressive rock almost as much as avant garde jazz. So bringing together Finnish guitarist Bjorkenheim with the Heaven sent rhythm section of Parker and Drake seemed to satisfy both of these urges. Bjorkenheim has played rock, jazz and blues in many contexts and sounds thrilled by the freedom of this setting. The music of this disc consists of a lengthy improvised suite called "Lithotine I" which moves through several numbered sections seamlessly with the music shifting dynamically from loud to soft, and the guitarist showing his chops in areas from Hendrixian rock to abstract improvisation. Parker and Drake sound fantastic as usual, locked into each other on a near telepathic level, and responding to all of Bjorkenheim's shifts of tempo and feel. Things get even more interesting on the encore performance, "Lithotone II", where Parker breaks out the Shawm, an obscure European woodwind instrument with a high pitched and piercing tone, and he starts wailing Ornette style over Bjorkenheim's supportive guitar and Drake's drumming. It's a fascinating sound, something like an urgent Middle Eastern flavored dirge. I think that a wide range of music fans would enjoy this disc, not just the usual fans of downtown jazz but anyone who enjoys adventurous and open ended rock 'n' roll. With one of the best bass and drums combos in music behind him, Bjorkenheim makes a fine statement in a very enjoyable disc.
DMG @ The Stone; Vol. 2 -

Send comments to: Tim