Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jamey Haddad/Mark Sherman/Lenny White: Explorations in Space and Time

Jamey Haddad/Mark Sherman/Lenny White.  Explorations in Space and Time.
Chesky, 2013.  Jamey Haddad:  http://jameyhaddadmusic.com/

Explorations in Space and Time is a recording that has come out of the meeting of three distinctly different musicians.  Jamey Haddad, a master hand drummer and world music expert (Cleveland-born and Professor at Oberlin) has teamed up with classically-trained percussionist Mark Sherman and drummer Lenny White of the ‘70s fusion band Return to Forever to offer an all-percussion album of diverse music. These three musicians had never played together before this recording nor had they rehearsed or composed anything for the project.  This adds interest and an element of spontaneity to the performances.  It should also be noted that this disc was recorded as a “binaural” recording, meaning that it is possible to hear where the instruments are in relation to one another, providing a more concert-like experience for the listener. Everything on the recording was done without overdubbing, which is a real testament to the players’ level of artistry.  

The disc starts off with “Stank”, a funk groove on drum set where the melodic interest comes from timpani glissandi.  In contrast, the second track “Wood and Metal” is a spacious and timeless piece framed by tuned gongs and wood blocks evoking the sounds of a forest perhaps.  “War” begins with a scream and quickly evolves into a groove on the drums with gongs and timpani providing color.   Random runs on the vibraphone and tuned gongs add to the chaos.  The piece fades out to the sound of a martial-sounding snare drum cadence.

“The Wind” follows and completely changes the mood.  Ringing wind chimes and mark trees are augmented by bird calls and gongs.  The aptly-named “Seven” is a groove in 7/4 time with Haddad showing his virtuosity on the kanjira, a south Indian drum, and the djembe.  “Tranquility” takes us back out of time with a track that sounds like something one might hear at a visit to their masseuse.  “Groove” again showcases Haddad, this time on the tar, a middle Eastern frame drum.  “Phrases” is completely void of instruments.  Instead, you hear the voices of each performer vocalizing the rhythms that they might otherwise play on drums.  “Long Distance” is a dialogue between ocean drum, drum set, and concert bass drum and tam-tam.  “Rhythm” showcases Sherman’s vibraphone playing on top of a subtle groove on the drum set played with brushes.  “Roots” gives White and Haddad a chance to solo over Sherman’s timpani ostinato.

In short, Explorations in Space and Time is a very eclectic musical collection that showcases percussion instruments from all over the world as played by three master musicians.  

Tracks:  Stank, Wood and Metal, War, The Wind, Seven, Tranquility, Groove, Phrases, Long Distance, Rhythm, Roots.

Andrew Pongracz

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