Hamid Drake | Ernest Dawkins | Harrison Bankhead | Chicago Trio | Velvet Songs | RogueArt Jazz

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Ernest Dawkins: soprano, alto & tenor saxophones | Harrison Bankhead: double bass, cello | Hamid Drake: drums, frame drum

Recorded live on August 11th and 12th 2008 by Sal Vito at Velvet Lounge, Chicago, IL, USA. Mixing: Sal Vito. Mastering: Jean-Pierre Bouquet, L’Autre Studio, Vaires-sur-Marne, France. Liner notes: Steve Dalachinsky. Photographs: Michael Jackson. Cover design: Max Schoendorff. Cover realization: David Bourguignon, URDLA. Producer: Michel Dorbon

Tracklist CD ONE: 1. Astral Projection (12:53) 2. Sweet 22nd Street (The Velvet Lounge) (12:10) 3. You Just Cross My Mind (8:26) 4. The Rumble (6:11) 5. Peace and Blessing (to Fred) (9:21) 6. Down n’ the Delta (7:40) Tracklist CD TWO:1. Jah Music (9:54) 2. Galaxies Beyond (5:47) 3. Woman of Darfur (10:00) 4. Waltz of Passion (8:56) 5. Moi Tre Gran Garcon (17:44) 6. One for Fred (17:19)

All compositions by Ernest Dawkins, Harrison Bankhead, Hamid Drake

Hamid Drake |  Ernest Dawkins |  Harrison Bankhead | Chicago Trio | Velvet Songs | rogueart jazz

Chicago Trio: Ernest Dawkins, Harrison Bankhead, Hamid Drake (from left to right) | Photo by Michael Jackson

This 2 cd set recorded live at the Velvet Lounge

a year before the legendary Fred Anderson passed away, is a fitting tribute by 3 Chicagoans to one of their own, the master tenor player, teacher, Velvet Lounge owner, advocate and AACM member, who has helped foster the musical scene in that city possibly more than anyone else. This artistic outing is a pilgrimage in sound taking us into the deepest recesses of this eclectic medium known as “jazz”. These pieces conceived/composed by the 3 reflect all phases of their erudite abilities, their singular as well as collective approaches to the music both compositionally and improvisational while specifically highlighting Dawkins’ virtuosity as a player and showing the masterful abilities of Bankhead and Drake as well. The music crosses barriers displaying every conceivable aspect of the “jazz” language with an almost religious zeal. — Steve Dalachinsky, excerpts from the liner notes

The Chicago Trio

is Ernest Dawkins on sax, Harrison Bankhead on bass and cello, and Hamid Drake on drums and frame drum. The double CD presents a live gig performed a year before Fred Anderson passed away, yet even then, the performance was already a tribute to him. Both Bankhead and Drake played a lot with the legendary Chicagoan and owner of the Velvet Lounge, and although Dawkins and Anderson also performed together, to my knowledge none of that is available on record.

In any event, this album is really excellent: a deep dive into jazz history by one of the best sax trios you can find, with Drake offering all kinds of rhythmic playfulness, ranging from a funky “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In” with Dawkins on two saxes, reggae on “Jah Music”, to weird modern work-outs on “Galaxies Beyond”. As I told Drake once, his playing sounds like dancing in paradise, and that’s also the case on this album. Bankhead is phenomenal too, also on cello on what is possibly the best track of the album, the long “Moi Trè Gran Garçon”. The precision of his tone, including bowed, is fantastic, as are his improvisations.

Dawkins is an ensemble man, and it must be said that he give the trio lots of space, yet he is a great front man, very lyrical and melodic, also in his improvisations, with jazz and blues tradition never far away, yet sufficiently free in his approach to make this album an easy one to recommend for readers of this blog, moving listeners from joy to sadness to spirituality to world empathy and back. The kind of free jazz Baba Fred Anderson would have enjoyed. A great tribute to a great musician. — Stef

 

Double CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 24.00
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One thought on “Hamid Drake | Ernest Dawkins | Harrison Bankhead | Chicago Trio | Velvet Songs | RogueArt Jazz

  1. Drawn from two nights at Chicago’s legendary Velvet Lounge, this double-disc set by three of the Windy City’s finest provides fitting tribute to that establishment’s late proprietor. Tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson was held in high esteem for his support for young musicians, non-judgmental direction, and provision of a space to experiment and perform. That the music was recorded two years prior to Anderson’s passing lessens neither the saxophonist’s influence nor the depth of feeling behind the dedication.

    Going under the moniker Chicago Trio, reedman Ernest Dawkins, drummer Hamid Drake and bassist Harrison Bankhead are well-versed in the flowing spontaneous invention in the jazz vernacular of which Anderson was such a lauded proponent. In fact, the rhythm pairing have a copious résumé, not only fulfilling the same role for the departed tenor man many times—a pedigree captured memorably on Timeless (Delmark, 2006)—but also with others such as flutist Nicole Mitchell’s Indigo Trio on Anaya (Rogue Art, 2009) and The Ethiopian Princess Meets The Tantric Priest (Rogue Art, 2011).

    Dawkins, as he has shown many times with his New Horizons Ensemble, cuts a dash as a fluent soloist, drawing upon a varied palette of reeds to create his swinging lope, at times bop-ish in his dancing oscillation around changing tonal centers, while at other times impassioned and unfettered. His bluesy oratory and occasional quote, such as “Wade In The Water” on “Moi Tre Gran Garcon,” affirm the continuum to the tradition, but his keening emotional cry is never far from the surface, especially on alto, his most expressive horn. Notable for his use of two horns simultaneously, “Down n’ the Delta,” pulls out like a locomotive before transforming into a funky boogaloo that ends up as a rousing “When The Saints Go Marching In” to please the boisterous crowd. Similar alchemy ensues on “One for Fred,” where the trio runs the gamut of styles so that after an initial blustery tenor incantation, choppy bass and drums cycle through free-bop and the blues, before culminating in a juddering stomp.

    As purveyors of evolving grooves, Drake’s partnership with Bankhead is rivaled only by his hookup with the great William Parker. They possess that same elastic sense of time which can morph between patterns without dropping a beat, exemplified here on “Jah Music.” Drake is a master of structure, able to conjure a groove from chaos as he demonstrates on the free-form tumult of “The Rumble.” Bankhead’s other prime asset is his unfailing melodic sensibility, heard to good effect through his singing bowed cello line on “Peace and Blessing (to Fred).”

    All three are so familiar with shifting between forms that they fashion convincing sonic tales out of thin air, and make it seem easy. Ultimately velvet proves an accurate epithet for these songs: comfortable and smooth with more than a hint of class.

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