Saturday, November 03, 2018

Hamid Drake / Ralph M. Jones / Adam Rudolph - Karuna ((Meta Records, 2018)

This album is an excellent collaboration between old friends Hamid Drake on drums and percussion, Ralph M. Jones on soprano and tenor saxophones, flutes, bass clarinet and spoken word and Adam Rudolph on percussion, keyboards and many other instruments. The music is based in jazz, but draws on the music of many other peoples, in a respectful and non derivative manner, creating a very enjoyable cross cultural journey. "Myth Science" may allude to Sun Ra, but goes its own way with a tight percussive beat that resonates across the sound stage, with sharp peals of noise arcing across the the percussive foundation, saxophone and and another instrument, perhaps a keyboard, adding further texture and keeping the performance exotic and interesting. The sound of the track becomes filled as the trio improvises and allows their creativity to take hold and guide the music further afield while still being grounded by the ever shifting beat. Subtle hand drums and flute open "Etymologies" allowing open space for the music to develop. The flute cries out, answered by short clusters of piano notes an cascades of percussion pushing the mysterious music to its conclusion. "Visions of Beyond" has a sense of being almost ceremonial with soft flute and percussion and framing instruments to keep them in the foreground. The flute is quite delicate and is joined by something that sounds like strummed instrument, bass or guitar, giving the music a different feel then the percussion laced tracks that proceeded it, one of floating and of being unmoored from time and space. Crisp drumming with chimes and flute are part of "Water Voices," weaving a delicate path and adding further reed and other instruments to broaden the sound path of this performance. The music develops a wider format enveloping drum set, saxophone, plucked instruments without overwhelming the delicate nature of the sound regardless of the speed at which the band performs. "Mosaics" builds from from insistent cymbals and tenor saxophone that builds in giving the music a deeper and heaver sound than anywhere else on the album. The withering tone of the saxophone fits in nicely with the waning tone of other instruments in a call and response formation that also adds a strong hand percussion element with flute and electronics shading and framing the improvisation. "Two in Three" is the longest song on the album with deep tenor saxophone and drum kits approaching traditional jazz improvisation with a powerful and exciting improvisation. Jones' tenor playing is strong and virile and the drummers are deep and rhythmic in their support. The second half of the performance is spacier with hand percussion and short bursts of saxophone playing off against one another. Album Preview -YouTube Karuna - amazon

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