CD and Concert Reviews
William Hooker & Liudas Mockūnas - Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival (NoBusiness, 2014) ****½
68-year old William Hooker is a veteran of the New York loft scene, his first album was released in the late 1970s, it was a band with David S. Ware and David Murray. Throughout the years he has been a very influential drummer, especially since he recorded a lot with people from the alternative noise rock environment like Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, musicians (very often guitarists) that come from “outside” jazz, as Hooker once put it. But he has always teamed up with “inside” jazz people too, and some of this music has been recorded by NoBusiness, a label Hooker really likes. For example there is “Crossing Points” with the late Thomas Chapin or “Earth’s Orbit”, an album with Darius Jones and Adam Lane. Hooker is not interested in genre bounds, instead he has been searching for new forms of music.
In 2013 he was invited to Vilnius to play with Lithuanian saxophonist Liudas Mockūnas. In an interview Hooker mentioned how much he respects Mockūnas and how much he liked the performance calling it “excellent” and “captivating”. And this is what it is indeed.
Hooker is always able to bring dramatic tension and human warmth to avant-garde jazz mainly by using his drum set to the extremes – he either concentrates on the high sounds of the cymbals or the deep and mumbling sound of the toms. This makes his style very unique, although you can hear Elvin Jones and Milford Graves as well as Rashied Ali and Sunny Murray as important influences. In front of this background Mockūnas integrates Colin-Stetson-like sounds and techniques, eerie howls and violent outbursts that remind of Mats Gustafsson and Peter Brötzmann and excellent techniques Evan Parker could have used as well.
So it is no surprise that “Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival” is full of highlights, for example when both musicians go crazy in the first track ID, or Mockūnas’ playing a shivering spiritual sax melody in front of Hooker’s bumpy drums in IDEA, or the balladesque beginning of IDEAL. The last track, IDOL, nails everything down – the beauty, the agony, the joy, the easiness of their playing – with Mockūnas blowing his soprano onto (!) a chair.
The music Hooker and Mockūnas play is about consciousness, it is about attention, about being awake, being present, not only about playing licks or preconceived stuff; it’s about making people work in a certain context, in this case a marvelous duo conversation. This duo can easily compete with today’s great sax/drums duos of free jazz like Peter Brötzmann/Han Bennink, Mats Gustafsson/Paal Nilssen-Love or Kidd Jordan/Hamid Drake – Hooker and Mockūnas seem to have found each other.
William Hooker once said that he simply wanted to make great music with great people. This is what he has accomplished with this album.
Watch IDOL here:
Author: Petr WeakJanuary 26, 2015
Nobusiness Records ( www.nobusinessrecords.com )
Lithuanian saxophonist and clarinettist Liudas Mockūnas (born 1976) studied jazz and classical in their homeland and in Denmark and currently focuses primarily on free improvisation and collaborates with musicians from around the world. We have introduced many times, most recently in December 2014 in Ostrava in space and Plato in Pardubice Theatre in 29 "low frequency" trio together with the Norwegian tuba player Lars Haug and Danish drummer Peter Bruun (29 played at the Theatre, among others earlier in duo with Vladimir Tarasov) . He has produced a series of albums that show the breadth of its coverage. With the French guitarist Marc Ducru clipped eruptive electric drive and acoustic meditation on Silent Vociferation , with Japanese pianist, vocalist and performer on "small objects" Ryojim heal again náladotvorné dialogues on Vacation Music and abstract noiseové poetry dealt together with the Danish electronic experimenter Jacob Riis . However, neither betrayed classical music, to which can introduce innovative features, which proves particularly recordingJura bowl on which surrendered together with pianist Petras Geniušasem hold symbolistickému composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis.
American drummer William Hooker (born 1946) has twelve Isley Brothers or accompanied singer Dionne Warwick and soon began to explore the creation of atonal Alban Berg and on the other side of the jazz label Blue Note recordings.In his career he played with rock avant-garde such as Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo and finally Zeena Parkins is, Christian or Marclayem Elliott Sharp.
Their joint performance at the Vilnius Jazz Festival is on CD natrackováno into four parts. The opening - ID - is to some extent a kind oťukáváním (and by blowing), where both artists define their lofty musical poetics to gradually worked their way to thoughtfulness ( IDEA ) perfection ( IDEAL ) to the personification of perfection ( IDOL ). Their common sonic conversation is taking off in all directions and has a number of branches and footnotes.Sometimes I note, though sometimes pass in order to turn intersected in audio infinity. Both illustrate the range of their skills, but with extraordinary lightness, unpretentious and yet often very expressive. Mockūnas there is sometimes lyrical, sometimes even positively zakřečovaný, repetitive and frisky. Likewise, Hooker is sometimes intently filigree, sometimes sweeping. The record actually has (i due to the absence of applause) concert atmosphere and rather like the space opened the gates and headed into infinite space, or perhaps to the common microcosm. It's plain to see that these two certainly have no problem fully indulge in unbridled improvisation and vice versa, in due time one imaginary reins adequately tightened. Their age difference and different roots they certainly are not an obstacle, on the contrary, they can inspire each other constructively and create a new dimension. There's no exhibování but revelatory process, in which listeners can fully immerse themselves and get surprise.
William Hooker & Liudas Mockunas, Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival
It is ever more clear to me that William Hooker is one of the premiere free improv drummers of our time. In a small group setting he can be counted on to invent an almost orchestral panorama of sounds and gestures. You get this very strongly in his duet performances with soprano, alto and tenor saxman Liudas Mockunas on their 2013 performance Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival (No Business CD 68).
It is just the two of them in a totally free context for a lengthy and rewarding set. Mockunas has much spirit and a full sound that complements Hooker's drumming synergies with a parallel energy and flourish that make the meeting seem totally right.
There is a tumbling forward into our present-future throughout. Mockunas has his own sound on all three saxes and Hooker responds in kind.
There was magic in the air on stage and in the audience that day. And the duo brings it into our hearing with great, long cosmic phrasings and extended form.
This is a set that will satisfy those who like their freedom scalding hot. It's a blazer to clear your head and set you spinning into space. Bravo!
Posted by Grego Applegate Edwards at 5:39 AM
Labels: free improvisation today, free jazz duos in the present decade, william hooker and liudas mockunas live at vilnius jazz festival gapplegate music review
A Review by Thomas Stanley
What started out as a William Hooker collaboration with mixologist DJ Olive at Slim's fortuitously expands to include west coast reedsman Glenn Spearman and something magical and enduring happens. Glenn sets it up with an opening that brings to mind lupine serenades to a waxing moon. Spearman's burled tone articulates the basic premise of Mindfulness: that studied involvement in the fullness of life is the central revelation of the human experience.
William rumbles in like the first gale of a brewing storm. His kit is vibrating like a bowed string -- shimmering masses of metal and taught drum that borrow the sweetness of a buzzing harmonium. Now Olive's palette of samples, waveforms, and records sketches a bright landscape in the midst of the storm. Olive can mimic the sound of herons fishing in the cattails. His cypher-copia of borrowed sound brims with aquatic noises -- humpback whales, tiger seals, and squawking gulls.
There's something warm and living in this "new" music that can often find itself dismissively relegated to the nihilistic urges of a postmodern aesthetic. "The cosmic warmth that heralds!" William cries out, seized by powerful intuitions that wrack his body. Hooker's art form is based on an honest surrender to powerful intuitions that must be mediated by a body that only has four limbs. As a drummer his playing is a paradox stretching the polyrhythmic concept to a point where he can point at time without having to stain his feet in its muck. Maybe Einstein would have told us that the natural offshoot of such vigorous timebending would be the production of new space.
Glenn is among an elite group of players able to command the tenor to simultaneously growl and sing. He's hang-gliding in all that space that William has created. Gliding on confident wings like a raptor or looping and darting with a swallow's precision. Olive brings the ritual to a close, corralling his briny symphony into a soothing drone. In the din of William's time machine a rupture has occurred in our conditioned approach to beholding our world. In Mindfulness we discover the taste of pure water and are startled by its tang.
A Review by Noumenal Lingam
The Distance Between Us fills with broken glass, smart bombs, and unmarked mass graves. A lone voice crooning like Arthur Prysock to the accompaniment of tom toms rises up from this cleft of consternation. This is the opening scene to a passion play of conflicting aspirations and lost innocence. This is the first exhalation of redemptive sound issuing from William Hooker's latest recording.
William sent me the tape some time ago. It is, we both agree, his best recording. "I want your immediate impressions Thomas, without thinking about it. Just respond." Which I was prepared to do internally, but before I could discover what lurks in The Distance Between Us and externalize it in print, the planet needed a few more wobbly rotations. At the time that I heard a tape of the rough mix from this superb cd, the Dow had yet to hit 10,000; a half-million desperate refugees had yet to bruise their feet in flight; and a little town in the Rockies had yet to cringe in shock as its children set upon each other. All are referents for the global developmental crisis that's addressed through 7 selections and 10 musicians on this cd.
Following Hooker's solo prelude, our descent down the crumbling sides of the canyon is easy, even gentle. Mark Hennen's piano echoes the sparkling poetics of gravity's pull on fluids down the path of least resistance. Hooker's hands work the metal plates surrounding his toms and snare into a broiling foam on top of Hennen's seductive waves. The sound bumrushes the gorge like a flashflood as Hooker's battery pushes its waters downstream.
The strategy at play here involves stacking different instrumentations on top of each other. Each cadre of tone scientists works a different subset of the same limited universe of melodic and temporal truths. There's a brutally transformative tension generated in the juxtaposition of such radically different bodies of sound. There's also a moment of revelation after about the third time you've listened through The Distance Between Us when you realize that the electric and acoustic, the frenetic and the sublime, are all different takes on the same motif.
Boom Boom Whap. "The Gates" and "Pure Imagination" (tracks 1 and 2) are succeeded by Hooker in the guise of astral/funk/rock jam pilot. (Hell, he did share the streets of urban Connecticut with Tyrone Lampkin.) A beat that is as compelling as it is elemental becomes the fulcrum for a multiple-guitar, bass-heavy, overdriven refiguring of a Sonic Youth dirge. "Because (of You)" introduces us to vocalist Gisburg whose attack brings to mind both Diamanda Galas and Skin of the Brit-punk band Skunk Anansie. Her voicings, however, are not without qualities of lift and clarity that keep the vibe in more of a psychedelic vein than an aggressive one. It's being able to pull out of ten minutes of this setting and texture into nearly twice as much "Sensor Suite" that exposes the strengths of this recording and its intelligence. Here the squad is all acoustic. Charles Compo (sax), Lewis Barnes (trumpet), and the apparently brilliant Sabir Mateen (sax) wrap harmonic flesh around the simple theme enunciated at the beginning of our journey. Hennen, who was such a friendly voice as we started our slide down the walls of the chasm, now seems to take perverse pleasure in our predicament. Alternately dropping bricks on the lower register and pushing stabby little clusters from the middle up, the piano meets the drums at a very high level of intercommunication. Without divulging anymore of the plot, it's important to note that the recording concludes with a disciplined symmetry and sense of emotional closure that makes it the first concept album I've heard in a long time that is worthy of that tag.
Put the purists out of the house on this one. William Hooker don't play that stuff, and time is far too short for games of critical vanity. In the meantime we are commanded to choose what will be planted in the tortured distance that stands between us. More bombs and suspicion or healing herbs to assuage our sickness?
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