american clave 1009/1008

When it comes down to it

a record producer is really a film director. And when it really comes down it, a record producer, a film director, is really a factory foreman. The investors and bankers might be the real employers. Maybe not.

But the second equation comes apart if the product is the group articulation of as intimate, contradictory and sometimes obscure a first person singular as this. A romantic liberation from a role.

It was a sweet feeling when it was apparent that the other players could hear themselves in that first person singular. Not just in the music, or in the project as a whole, but in that difficult, dark “I.” I would have expected it from Jack or from Stubblefield. After all, what differences are there between the options open to a blue collar kid from the Bronx and those a blue collar kid from Glasgow or from Little Rock. The similarities would be strong enough that the “l”s partially formed by them would overlap. The real thrill came from seeing that recognition in the faces and gestures of the players and listeners from more exotic childhood landscapes like Santiago de Cuba, Les Cayes or New Rochelle. A romantic liberation to an illusion, maybe.

So Desire Develops An Edge turns out to be as dark and difficult as that “I,” but, as it feels from here, just as dark and sensuous. — Kip Hanrahan

P.S. Speaking of difficult, check out that tense cross clave in “Two.” I love the way Puntilla is able to shift back and forth from one clave (held, maybe, by Jerry) to its incompatible opposite (held, maybe, by Ignacio). If at the heart of a Cuban drummer’s skill, even a quinto player, is the ability to hold a steady clave, how many players have the strength and ears to invert so fluidly?

P.P.S. Speaking of sweet moments, the Haitians, who knew nothing of Jack’s history, went spontaneously crazy for his singing. The punchline is that they had no idea he was supposed to be great. Everybody — Jack, Arto, Jon, Milton, Paul, Kip — was turned on by the absolute sincerity of the moment.

Produced by KIP HANRAHAN / Executive producer SCOTT MARCUS / Engineered by DAVID RODRIGUEZ and JON FAUSTY, assisted by YORAM VAZAN, EDWIN AYALA, and RALF RIDAO / Mix engineered by JON FAUSTY / Technical assistance by FRANK RODRIGUEZ / Mastered by GREG CALBI at Sterling Sound / Photography by ANDY FREEBERG / Cover design by CAPOEIRA GRAPHICS / Special thanks to NANCY WEISS, YALE EVELEV, MARLENE FREEMAN-SEMELS, MARTY SHELLER, FRANCENE KEERY, MIKE SNOW, SPENCER RICHARDS, and to RALF RIDAO for Jack’s bass.