Hamid Drake & Michael Zerang | Links Hall at Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Hamid Drake & Michael Zerang All Ages Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Dec. 20, 6 a.m., Sun., Dec. 21, 6 a.m. and Mon., Dec. 22, 6 a.m. 2008

Master improvisers with a history of collaboration more than two decades long, Chicago percussionists Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang share an interest in the myriad cultural traditions that esteem the drum and a deep engagement with the spiritual potential of rhythm. They’re much in demand abroad—their out-of-town gigs have included sessions with artists as disparate as Ethiopian pop singer Gigi and German free-jazz saxophonist Peter Brötzmann—but since 1991 they’ve come home to celebrate the winter solstice with duo performances that are as much ceremony as concert. Lit only by candles, the two men take their places among a world’s worth of percussive instruments and blend grooves from Africa, the Middle East, and all sorts of jazz until the glow of the winter sun comes streaming through the windows. In the silence that ends each concert, you can feel a year’s accumulated awfulness fall away—for a moment it’s possible to believe that music, as Albert Ayler once put it, really is the healing force of the universe. This year Zerang and Drake’s rapport should be even tighter than usual; instead of convening for the occasion, perhaps from parts far-flung, they’ve just played ten shows together as the musical accompaniment to Blair Thomas’s The Ox-Herder’s Tale at the MCA. Advance tickets (recommended) can be purchased at Bookworks, 3444 N. Clark. —Bill Meyer

Price: $20

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