Hamid Drake & Michael Zerang | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Hamid Drake & Michael Zerang

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Both Drake and Zerang play a wealth of percussion instruments that encompass musical traditions from the southern tip of Africa to the Middle East and the subcontinent of India; in this concert, however, they'll restrict themselves to two sets of good ol' American trap drums as they honor the memory of Ed Blackwell. And while anyone who passionately hates drum solos should spend the night elsewhere, others will find a layered trove of rhythmic interplay and even strong infusions of melody in these duets. Zerang brings an edgy, pleasantly neurotic energy to his drumming, in contrast to Drake's flowing lope; but both combine the abstract expressionism of free jazz with the uncomplicated communication one expects of the world's earliest instrument--a parlay learned from and epitomized by Ed Blackwell. In a career that spanned five decades, Blackwell (who died in October) made hundreds of recordings, the most famous of which were with the ground-breaking Ornette Coleman Quartet. Blackwell brought to the music an irresistible bounce and an attention to timbre, which stemmed from his native New Orleans: he infused the rhythmic lilt of that city into the free jazz of the 60s, which had already reinvented the multiple-line improvising of early New Orleans, and often his drumming offered another melody line of its own. At this concert the maintenance of those virtues will be in (four) good hands. Saturday, 7.30 PM, HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee; 235-2334.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sherry Antonini.

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