Rob Wagner, Hamid Drake, and Harrison Bankhead | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Rob Wagner, Hamid Drake, and Harrison Bankhead Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Nov. 14 and Sat., Nov. 15, 9:30 p.m. 2008

Rob Wagner named one standout track on his latest CD, last year’s Trio (Valid Records), “Where Is Home?”—a loaded question for the reedist. He recorded the album with bassist Nobu Ozaki and drummer Hamid Drake in New Orleans three months post-Katrina, on his first trip back to his old home since the storm. (He’s based in New York now.) He’d been playing clarinet and saxophone in Crescent City klezmer, funk, and Latin bands since 1991, when he moved to New Orleans from Chicago fresh out of DePaul, and he’d held down a five-year gig playing his own verging-on-free-jazz tunes with bassist James Singleton and a series of drummers at D.B.A. on Frenchman Street. The music makes the question of home resonant in another way: Drake plays sinuous Mesopotamian frame-drum grooves that interweave with Wagner’s clarinet lines, which split the difference between melancholy eastern European melodies and John Coltrane’s “India.” When Wagner lived here he often participated in Velvet Lounge jam sessions, and since then he’s played in town with the New Orleans Klezmer All Stars, but this gig—with top-shelf local bassist Harrison Bankhead taking Ozaki’s place—is his first in Chicago as a leader. —Bill Meyer

Price: $15

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