Edward ‘Kidd’ Jordan is probably the single most under documented jazz musician of his generation. A fact that is even more remarkable when you consider that he is also one of the busiest working musicians in the world. The list of bands and artists he has performed with reads like a 40-year Grammy program….from Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder to Aretha Franklin and the Supremes. And the list of jazz musicians he has performed with goes even wider….from Ed Blackwell and Ellis Marsalis, to Ornette Coleman, Cannonball Adderley and Cecil Taylor. Fortunately, this fact has not lost on his appreciative European audiences and was recognized by the French government with a knighthood for his contribution to the European performing arts. In addition to his live performances though, Kidd has long been associated with music education due to his position at Southern University at New Orleans, his work with children, documented by 60 Minutes, and his educational programs in Sierra Leone, Senegal and Mali. A quiet genteel man, Kidd has always remained faithful to the sounds in his soul. The honesty in his playing is only matched by a tone that has rarely been heard in the history of his instrument. When audiences talk about Kidd, sometimes it is necessary to stop and think for a moment…are they referring to Kidd the prophet, the artist, or the teacher….Fortunately for all those that are privileged to know and hear him, they are all the same, all one.
Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Drake studied with Harry Hawthorn (trap set), Raman Papaiah, Ustad Kedar Khan, Ranchod Das Pandya (tablas), Howie Levy (congas), and Hamza El Din (frame drums). Hamid Drake’s longest musical association is with Fred Anderson, with whom he has worked from 1974 to the present day. Through Anderson, he met and played with George Lewis and Douglas Ewart (late ’70s). Another longtime association has been with Adam Rudolph, a percussionist whom Drake cites as one of his major influences along with Eddie Blackwell. Rudolph and Drake have worked together as a duo and in larger group contexts since 1976. Hamid also worked extensively with Don Cherry from 1978 until his passing in 1995. Since 1977 Drake has been a member of the Mandingo Griot Society.
Others with whom Drake has worked over the years are Marilyn Crispell, Pierre Dorge, Norwegian pianist-composer Georg Gräwe, Herbie Hancock, Misha Mengelberg, Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, Malachi Thompson, fellow percussionist Michael Zerang and most notably with Kent Kessler and Ken Vandermark in the DKV Trio. With these diverse artists, playing in a broad range of musical settings, Drake comfortably adapts to north and west African and Indian impulses as well as reggae and Latin. Among drummers he has cited as being influential, aside from Blackwell and Rudolph, are Philly Joe Jones and Jo Jones. It was through the latter’s broad-based concepts that Drake was impelled to explore earlier forms of drumming that had been drawn into jazz before the advent of free jazz. One result of these interests is that Drake’s playing is often rather more structured and touches upon more identifiable bases than that of many of his contemporary percussionists. He also frequently plays without sticks, using his hands to develop subtly commanding undertones. His tabla playing is also notable for his subtlety and flair. Drake’s questing nature and his interest in Caribbean percussion led to a deep involvement with reggae. This, too, began in the 70s and he subsequently worked with many noted names of the genre, including Michael Rose, Sister Carol, the Heptones and Africassa, the latter evolving into Kwame and Wan Africa. In the late 90s, he played with Dave Anderson and the l-Lites.
Perhaps the city’s most exciting percussionist, The New York Times recently raved about Drake’s ability to incorporate pattern-based drumming into free jazz. “But,” says Chicago Reader critic Neil Tesser, “this skill probably isn’t as important to his success… as his deep swing and extraordinary ear for shading and color.” Peter Margasak (Chicago Reader) adds that Drake “can play anywhere from deep in the pocket to way out in space.”
Hamid Drake’s recorded material is best represented on Chicago’s Okkadisk label.
William Parker is an enormous figure, a fantastically talented bassist who doubles on percussion, flutes, pocket trumpet, tuba, zintar and whatever other instruments might catch his fantasy. He churns out full-length works faster than they can be documented (his recordings often end up just teasing at the breadth of his ideas) and is at the same time one of the most in demand bassists working in jazz.
While his recordings go back to 1979, Parker’s first high-profile job was in Cecil Taylor’s Feel Trio with Tony Oxley in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Since then, he has been a regular part of groups led by Matthew Shipp and David S. Ware and led several groups, including the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra and the great In Order to Survive. His mastery on his instrument is unsurpassed and his recordings run the gamut from freely swinging jazz to full-on sonic attacks. He’s led dozens of recording sessions and appeared on scores more, and his presence generally means something worth hearing was going on.
“It is through poetry and vision that life is discovered; discovered, and then altered. The premise was to start a human revolution…to bring dreams closer to present day reality. The music called ‘jazz’ is less than 100 years old; to young to repeat itself.”
William Parker, January 1996
Having performed on more than 100 recordings over the past three decades, William Parker has been a driving force in keeping the mislabeled and misunderstood notion of free jazz alive and in the front of many listener’s consciousness. Considered by many to be the greatest bassist ever to have played avant garde jazz, today his name is mentioned with equal frequency with the likes of Dave Holland, Charlie Hayden, Barre Philips, and Barry Guy.
As a mainstay of New York City’s progressive jazz scene since the 70′s and a core member of the Cecil Taylor Unit in the 80′s, it is hard to name an artist that Parker hasn’t performed with. But that was yesterday and today he remains as socially active and musically prolific as ever serving as the invisible hand behind the groups of David S. Ware, Matthew Shipp, Assif Tsahar; leading one the premier new music festivals in the world, Vision Fest in New York City; leading his own quartet, In Order To Survive, with Cooper-Moore, Rob Brown, and Susie Ibarra; and all while composing and performing in such other realizations as his recent collaboration with poet and playwright, David Budbill, in their performance tour of Budbill’s work, Moment to Moment.
“Just the idea that the layman has about the music is wrong. There’s nothing ‘out’ about this music. If you analyze it, you find that it has rhythm, harmony, melody. It has extended techniques. It’s influenced by music from all over the world, you know? The cell of sound is smaller. The rhythm isn’t constant, it’s more like the idea of a pulse, where you take a longer rhythm and break it up, varying smaller and longer cells. Sometimes you’re playing a chant that builds to a fever pitch. You deal with dances, the feeling of the blues. But it’s not about playing anything you want to play. It’s not even about wanting to play. It’s about having to do it, and training yourself how to go along with sound and a flow of ideas.”