CD and Concert Reviews

Jazz Right Now
William Hooker: Heart Of The Sun (2014)

By JOHN SHARPE, Published: January 28, 2014

Suddenly Heart Of The Sun from veteran drummer William Hooker's The Gift looks a whole lot more poignant. With the passing of trumpeter Roy Campbell in January 2014, Hooker has been deprived of one of his longest collaborators. Campbell first appeared alongside the drummer on Colour Circle (CJR, 1989) as part of the self styled three member William Hooker Orchestra, and then later as one third of The Gift on Live at Sangha (Bmadish Records, 2005). As ever here Campbell mixes speedy proto bebop outbursts with an earthy lyricism, this last trait being particularly appropriate as Hooker, in what seems something of a new departure, introduces more overt melodies than often found in his spirited concoctions.

Captured on a live date in Brooklyn's Roulette in early 2013, the continuous performance splits into eight cuts, with the divisions selected at suitable junctures, often when the leader prompts, cajoles and signals a change of direction through his controlled but free drumming. Multi-instrumentalist David Soldier completes the threesome, alternating between violin, banjo and guitar, and often providing the rhythmic elements which create momentum. It's not until the third track "Snowflakes" that Hooker adds a steady beat, behind Soldier's bluegrass inflected banjo, but it remains a fleeting moment, as the drummer most often punctuates in a portentous rubato, akin to orchestral timpani.

No matter that echoes of Americana and folk rub shoulders with abstract timbral explorations, energy levels stay typically high. Nonetheless there is an episodic quality to the seat of pants navigation that recalls a film soundtrack where one character's theme abruptly gives way to another. That's most obvious on tracks like the opening "Reflector Of Truth" and later "Seat Of Green" where honeyed exclamations from trumpet or violin transform into grainy dissonance and extreme registers before switching back to sweeter gambits. Of special note is the joyous celebratory violin hoedown which breaks out on "Rainwater," as Campbell spins a trumpet obligato. It feels like the perfect ending, but Hooker has other ideas and it is not until after the brief but atmospheric musings of "For Leroy..2" that this enjoyable disc ends, fittingly with a breathy exhalation from the now departed trumpeter.
Track Listing: Reflector Of Truth; Bike Lane; Snowflakes; Seat Of Green; Slippers; For Leroy..1; Rainwater; For Leroy..2.

Personnel: David Soldier: violin, banjo, guitar; Roy Campbell: trumpet, pocket trumpet, flute; William Hooker: drums.

Record Label: Engine
All About Jazz
By David Meadow.
May 2, 2014
Issue # 196 

The William Hooker Trio burned up the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center on April 21. They played as part of the highly-eclectic Arts for Art series, which showcases experimental and improvised art forms, and were the final act on a bill of avant-jazz-oriented outfits that ran the gamut from hard-driving post-bop to serene musings on fiddle and guitar. Hooker's ensemble, though, was the most explosive of all. Other critics have used words like “slash-and-burn” and “maelstrom” to describe the veteran drummer's approach, and I don't believe any of us are complaining.

The trio's performance was essentially one extended piece, an hour long, with discernible “movements,” dominated by each member in turn and signaled largely by discreet but authoritative hand gestures from Hooker. The thread that ran through it all was Hooker's repeated incantation: “Let light, let love, let power restore the plan on earth.” When he first uttered it, in the near-silence at the very top of the set, he was squeezed into the corner of one of the wings of the proscenium stage, and his words were quiet and matter-of-fact enough that, for a moment, I thought he was poking his head through an unseen hatch in the wall and bidding the organizers in the hallway outside to adjust the lights.

However, as he solemnly pivoted around, the words became clearer and more urgent — and, as he settled into his drum set, they were a shouted exhortation. With that, Hooker, 67, launched into a furious solo thudding of all drums, rolling and rattling, cymbals blazing. The jagged jitters of frantic ride-and-snare dialogue hurtled forward at a speed the ear could barely keep up with.

The next musician to grab the reins was pianist Mark Hennen, bestriding the length of the keyboard, advancing his fingers across the notes with vigor. His movements had an air of dance to them: two fingers on each hand were forming little homunculi stomping the keys like a refined Punch and Judy fighting it out. Broadway, Art Tatum and Tin Pan Alley hovered faintly and knowingly in the crevices of semi-tonal, semi-discordant wash, while Hooker sat grandly in his corner of the wing, taking it all in.

Hennen and Hooker wrangled together for a time, and then came the cue for their bandmate, Matt Lavelle, to join in. He alternated among the trumpet, Flügelhorn and clarinet — and he would later genially confirm to me that that's a rare combination indeed. Lavelle was very much in minimalist mode, blowing the shrill, clear blasts of a herald on the brass and weaving deceptively simple passages on the reed. Here and there he threw in the wail of an ecstatic klezmer goosing a hora, or a low moan from one of clarinetist Eric Dolphy's radically reinvented spirituals.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, the leader came in with the incantation, no longer exhorting, but sagely and with assurance, à la Sun Ra. Each time he spoke, the energy shifted. Anything resembling quiet was a pause between movements; no one movement was still or hushed, and my attention was rapt the whole time. The closest the set came to balladry was a moment when the churn of the instruments suggested violent natural phenomena like volcanoes and tidal waves, and then a moment of slight, collective restraint seemed to take us soaring over the top of the smoking mountains, the roar muffled and the wind whistling in our ears.

When it was all over, and the last piano key had been pounded, the last hot breath had blasted through the brass and the last cymbal ecstatically crashed, Hooker bookended the affair with a final iteration of his watchword — which, by now, we were all keenly expecting. He emphasized each word as though hearing it for himself with new ears and sensing a deeper meaning, his new understanding hard-earned through the tumult. With his tone of voice, the drummer seemed to be saying, “My concepts of light, love, and power have shifted, but this is still my wish and I'm sticking to it.”

Tracing some of Hooker's history, we find a fiercely eclectic and open-minded player. While he and his collaborators are clearly steeped in the great jazz traditions, as they showed during this performance, the artist has found multiple sub-niches in contemporary music, playing venues like the storied CBGB and collaborating with rock giants like Thurston Moore. Hooker has also stated in interviews that he doesn't necessarily buy into the line, now familiar in out-jazz circles, that “you have to learn to play ‘in' before you can play ‘out.'” Considering this, we can see this concert making the ultimate statement of pluralistic unity: we may communicate in a common language, and recognize some of our favorite words and phrases with relish, but we mustn't forget how many ways there are to learn a language and how many different experiences a word or phrase can reflect.

Concert Review - April 21, 2014 performance at the Clemente Soto Vélez Center
William Hooker & Liudas Mockūnas: Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival (2014) 

By JOHN SHARPE,  Published: January 17, 2015

Veteran drummer William Hooker continues to expand his varied discography on the No Business imprint, with the addition of Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival. Like Crossing Points (2011) with the late reedman Thomas Chapin, it's a meeting with a resourceful saxophonist -this time Liudas Mockūnas, a co-founder of the label. But unlike the former encounter, on this occasion Hooker avoids the all out aural assault which tested Chapin to the limits, settling instead for power exercised with restraint and precision. And the result is all the better for it. Even in the most extreme moments the two always seem to possess another gear should they need it. 

Both men are at the top of their game on this date, captured at the 2013 edition of the Lithuanian capital's jazz festival. Mockūnas and Hooker form a relaxed, purposeful pairing. A strong sense of mutual engagement pervades the four jointly extemporized cuts. Mockūnas comes out of the Peter Brötzmann/Mats Gustafsson lineage of saxophone players: like them he stands as a broad brush elemental presence, melding a roughly etched lyricism with overblown curdled squalls. Hooker responds as if following a score only he can see. His tightly focused exclamations create an unfurling carpet of structured interjection which both buoys and prompts the hornman. 

Each allows ample leeway for the other in spacious transparent interaction throughout the concert, leavened by two short solo interludes in "Ideal." Straight from the incremental beginning of "Id" where isolated strikes of cymbal and snare alternate with a gurgling saxophone stream, the confidence, trust and listening is evident. As the piece flows in unbroken dialogue into "Idea," the culmination arrives through an anthemic swell of rolling rhythm and impassioned blowing. But it's not until the concluding "Idol," where the heartbeat throb and convoluted soprano murmurs grow into piercing multiphonics recalling bagpipes, that the anticipated slugfest materializes. It makes for an exhilarating end to a superior free jazz outing. 

Personnel: William Hooker: drums; Liudas Mockūnas: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone. 

Record Label: NoBusiness Records
All About Jazz

William Hooker & Liudas Mockūnas - Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival (NoBusiness, 2014) ****½

By Martin Schray

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:

William Hooker + Liudas Mockūnas: Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival
Author: Petr WeakJanuary 26, 2015

Nobusiness Records ( )

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.
His voice
Thursday, February 12, 2015

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

William Hooker Ensemble
The Firmament Fury

Cat. No.: SHCD123

William Hooker drums
Claude Lawrence alto saxophone
Charles Compo tenor & soprano saxophone
Masahiko Kono trombone
Donald Miller electric guitar

Track Listing:
1. For the Spirit of Earth / Cosmic (William Hooker) 10:13
2. Prayala (William Hooker) 13:58
3. Lustre (William Hooker) 13:16
4. The Coming One / Evolve, Part One (William Hooker) 8:19
5. Radiance (William Hooker) 11:05
6. Evolve, Part Two (William Hooker) 2:42

Total time: 59:49

"Hooker's music is good, unabash ed free-jazz improvising. He and Lawrence make an effective duet: Hooker's rolling bed of drumming avoids direct comment on Lawrence's strong, Lyons-inflected alto. Of the trio and quartet tracks on the album, Pralaya and Radianceare probably the strongest. The horn players get their solo moments and do well with them, but the music is framed to emphasize the group, and that's where a listener's ears are drawn. There's good group improvising to be heard here."
Dale Smoak, Cadence, February 1993

Liner Notes

1. Crises
"At first I was afraid; this familiar music had demanded action, the kind of which I was incapable, and yet had I lingered there beneath the surface I might have attempted to act. Nevertheless, I know now that few really listen to this music."
Ralph Ellison
The Invisible Man

It's my firm belief that the task of the musician in playing improvised music is to anchor a higher level of existence on the material plane. This doesn't mean to say that this happens, or that this view is shared by other composers, players and colleagues. There are, of course, more superficial views which address themselves to money, fame, prestige, women/men, and power. These views should not be dismissed, for these people also play music, write compositions, do interviews, make records, and (indeed) cause the direction of improvised music to go a certain way. But my alternative view still stands. I feel that when one is making music, it is the task of the musician to create what flows on a higher level of life-thought and idea. I believe this abstraction is acknowledged by most musicians who see each other, and ultimately respect each other, just because we are musicians. This is probably an unwritten code of thought in the creative field. It is one which seems to be realized wherever I go, amongst friends and enemies alike. We are neither promoters nor entrepreneurs first, we are artists with that unique talent to improvise and create music on the spot. This unites us. The other territorial boundaries separate us. But the first goal is in the bringing down from some higher place, an energy, a music, which exists on a realm outside of the ordinary everyday drudgery of life, and it is the realization of this that produces the crises. In coming down the music is used, abused, transferred and transformed, not always toward higher levels. And this music is (mostly) not heard by the human beings meant to receive its message.

2. Resolution
The fact of 'identification' with the music one makes is also a situation that can produce a desperate individual, with a life and creative juices that are even more desperate. I speak of the need to affirm self-identity for the artist. What is real (surely) is not only in the music's imaginative vista, but one begins to question the aspects of life and death which every individual questions, after a while.
This is the scenario: the musician is creating and no one is listening, no one is affirming higher art, no one is crediting the individual with products of higher life (or beauty) – yielding bad vibes all around.
At this point the artist asks, "Now am I just going to let these people destroy me and my own self-worth? Am I going to let them use me as their pawn in the scheme of technological know-how and materialism to place credence in their perverted vision of what art is, what my improvised music is, and what the direction of my improvised music is?"
This is an affront to my ability to say what my work is and my ability to be truthful in explaining it; thus making it impossible for me to teach it to others. At this point we stop asking what is correct for them, for I have (mistakenly) placed all of my self-worth in being an artist. For these people to tell me that my work is valid (or invalid) is to have the outside world confront my existence, my playing, and my outlook on life on this earth. I am and should be, the judge of this situation; yet it is important for me to have the final word on how I do my work, my improvisation, my life. Perhaps if the world weren't so specialized I would not have to deal with this. Perhaps, if money weren't the only yardstick for measuring the worth of things I wouldn't have to acknowledge this ignorance.
Nonetheless, we decide that we (the artists) make the music. We have played varied styles in many cities/countries, and when we play with others we know that it is ourselves calling for the instantaneous response to our musical framework. Therefore, within (the 'order' comes from ourselves and whatever the societal context) we know whether our music is true or not. We know how we felt on the day and night of the gig. We know what club owner messed with us, and who we had to be hassled by about the tapes, the pay, the working conditions, etc. Finally, in response to the higher order of things, we know we will die when it's time for us to die, and this no one else can do. It is the musician himself who can legitimize himself; but this is a given, for when he plays he says – I AM. This is the ultimate legitimation. Our notes are our being. I am my music. I initiated the action, and the people involved.
Who can question me? I say to the arrogant mind-set I am confronting, "Do you think you have the right?"

3. Plateau
"All growth is committed to a foundation; time is growth – We are extensions of what always was – and so the TREE grows."
It grows in its own fashion and in its own environment, and those that care will elaborate on it. This keeps the 'heart' of the matter in the correct place. The music is not merely a process of mix and match, of technological wizardry. There is a spiritual bond (if you will). The acknowledgement that another, be it the musician, the mentor or the teacher; is concerned, and would contribute. This encourages the individual to go to the next step of trying to get money from the business interests who must be persuaded to fund and support our work, so they can perhaps assuage their need to be respected as 'civil citizens' who have culture in mind. This may (or may not) be correct. But when we see the motivation of the true artist, we know that our journey is beyond the color of the participants; the race of the average audience; the environment of the presentation. We only know that we are to play and deliver in a strong and spontaneous fashion. Again, this challenge should be differentiated from the supporters. What is this? Talk, conferences, seminars, vocal meanderings... Sure we need the money, but this does not make our committment. We try to measure up to what our observers cite. This can be positive. Yet there is a paradox. My value triples in Asia. The dollar is on a different scale in Europe. And the white Anglo-Saxon ethic can make me be reproduced on a level that is so cold that everyone will be listening on this scale. This is part of my struggle. My music is Afro-American classical music and I reproduce it myself. No one should tell me how 'hot' I should be, or who I should play with; and I must push to eliminate these problems.
I have realized that the offering I'm making is to a higher place. This doesn't make me an idealist, or impractical, because the vision is always tempered by the world's lack of creativity and fire, and interest in improvisation. This is to be expected, it is the way of the world. But when we take on the rules and values and speculative schemes of others to make our own creative efforts legitimate, we, as artists, are doomed. The music ceases to flow, and hence there is nothing in this environment in any way creative, or giving, to the spontaneous impulse or the music. I try to keep this thought in mind, but not for too long because thought, in itself is also a trap, where the naturalness stops and yields to the master plan of the mind, not the sentences of the music.

4. Crisis – "Once said"
Another crisis is arrived at, for the cycle repeats itself. After creating and going through the stages we have already mentioned, you will find yourself in another cloud. The SUN stops shining, and the western sense of culture stops the mood of the soul's impulse. A cold, closed environ. I will remember the past; I will live to try to stay fresh. My committment to improvised music is in my practice of the art. My necessity to protect its legitimation can only go so far, for the mind only goes so far. It's up to others to realize the process and to listen, openly. I only hope you, the reader, will realize that truth after the natural course of listening is submitted to.

William Hooker
Liner notes/Firmament Fury/Silkheart Records
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.

Mindfulness - A Review by Thomas Stanley
The Distance Between Us
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?

"The Distance Between Us" A Review by Noumenal Lingam

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