Between the Buried and Me Automata Part I
The progressive metal veterans release their highly anticipated eighth full-length album. Drummer BLAKE RICHARDSON somehow takes it up a notch.
Once again Blake Richardson’s fluent, musical playing is rendered brilliantly by producer Jamie King, a mainstay since Between the Buried and Me’s 2005 album, Alaska. The first of a two-volume conceptually themed work, Automata Part I sparkles with crisp acoustic guitar and lush synth textures mixed with the band’s typical grinding, odd-time assault. Richardson’s powerful tom grooves throughout “Yellow Eyes” stick to the shifting guitar punctuations like glue, and his melodic use of tightly tuned toms on “Blot” stand out—though, really, his playing shines on all of the album’s six tracks. Automata Part I will quite possibly be considered the band’s—and Richardson’s—finest work to date. Look for Part II midyear. (Sumerian) Ben Meyer
Lewis Porter Beauty & Mystery
Let’s not mince words: TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON sits firmly among the world’s greatest jazz drummers. Here’s proof.
Journalist/jazz musician Lewis Porter plays piano with an American flair; one imagines Aaron Copland and Bruce Hornsby duking it out in some retro neon bar. His trio compadres of John Patitucci and Terri Lyne Carrington make the most of this meet-up, with Carrington being particularly expressive. She’s a chameleon here, recalling the combustible fury of Jack DeJohnette on “Birthplace” and “Bye Bye Blackbird” and the loping punctuations of Frankie Dunlop on “Blues for Trane and McCoy,” and dishing out her own pure speedball swing on “Chasing Lines.” Beauty & Mystery is yet another highlight in the tremendous drumming arc of Terri Lyne Carrington. (Altrisuoni) Ken Micallef
IceFish Human Hardware
A new band project by prog monster VIRGIL DONATI is always something to look forward to.
Funded largely by a successful PledgeMusic campaign, Human Hardware features plenty of Virgil Donati’s signature fireworks fused with sensitive and solid grooves in support of his Italian bandmates, Marco Sfogli (guitar), Alex Argento (keyboards), and Andrea Casali (bass and vocals). Born out of the sessions for Donati’s 2013 solo album, In This Life, IceFish’s material is the perfect setting for the drummer to apply his masterful grasp of odd time signatures and subtly textured yet muscular playing. Donati’s deft navigation of the twisting riff in the intro of “It Begins” and clever metric modulation on the title cut are standout moments among the album’s nine polished tracks. IceFish’s first tour commenced in February with several dates in India and Italy. (icefishband.com) Ben Meyer
Tal National Tantabara
The popular band from the West African nation of Niger will appeal to world-music fans and shredders alike.
An African band with international appeal, Tal National recorded its fifth album, Tantabara, at its home studio in Niger’s capital city of Niamey with returning Chicago-based engineer and drummer Jamie Carter (Psalm One, Chance the Rapper). The group melds, among other elements, rolling 12/8 rhythms from Nigerian Fuji music, traces of Tuareg blues like that of Bombino, who also hails from Niger, and Malian griot guitar in the vein of Vieux Farka Touré. Fifteen musicians are credited, but OMAR OMARIS appears to be the main drumset player, with KELEGUE on talking drum and three other performers credited on drums. The drumset grooves are some freakish meeting of Tony Allen and Thomas Pridgen in his Mars Volta years, urgent and aggressive with lots of intricate snare work. The raw production gives the drums a punchy attack on the opening title track and the frantic “Entente,” both in multilayered 12/8 time. A rapid-fire guitar intro on “Akokas” melts into a lilting soca-esque groove that develops a shuffling subdivision as the guitar solo builds. Experienced African music scholars and neophytes alike would be wise to check out this record; beyond the brilliant drum performances there is a mountain of music to excavate on repeated listens. (FatCat) Stephen Bidwell
Ivo Perelman Scalene / Live in Baltimore / Heptagon / Octagon
Four approaches to free improvisation highlight individualism on the drums.
For those unfamiliar with him, Ivo Perelman is a prolific tenor sax player operating in the avant-garde and free-improvisation realm. His playing can range from sensitive to pointillistic to fiery as he explores moods, shapes, and patterns. Late in 2017 he released a series of CDs in which he engaged in new collaborations. Four of these albums feature drummers versed in exploring the possibilities of texture, color, and abstract rhythms. What makes the explorations special is hearing the individualism that each player brings to the set.
On Scalene JOE HERTENSTEIN plays with a driving, chattery approach incorporating rubato elements in his delivery. JEFF COSGROVE’s performance on Live in Baltimore exhibits a subtler, lighter approach, incorporating crisp playing with the use of space while navigating a single fifty-one-minute improvisation. Heptagon presents a special treat, featuring BOBBY KAPP, who first emerged in the late 1960s as a free-improv drummer. Here he plays with time and space, dancing at the kit with brushes and a bright kinetic energy. Last but not least, Octagon finds GERALD CLEAVER working magic with his dynamic reactions. An experienced player in both free and more straight-ahead jazz, Cleaver inventively blends the abstract with groove, color with drive.
Individually these are all solid releases, but taken collectively, hearing the approach each drummer takes to free improv provides an added reward. (Leo Records) Martin Patmos
TAKING THE REINS
Michael Spiro/Joe Galvin Bákini: En el Nuevo Mundo
Dynamic Afro-Cuban styles from Indiana University.
Traditional Afro-Cuban drumming is rich with rhythm and sound, having developed over decades while drawing on even older sources. Typically, various drums, cowbells, shekeres, and more can be found crossing each other under vocal refrains. Here, percussionists MICHAEL SPIRO and JOE GALVIN, faculty members at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University—who actually met as students of drum master Daniel Alfonso Herrera in Matanzas, Cuba—bring together some of these folkloric music ideas within the context of a suite. Much of this works very well, sounding authentic in the percussion and vocal sections, and in later tracks when adding a chorus of horns. As for the arrangements, while the setting does allow for a variety of rhythms and styles to be explored, for some listeners it might diminish the trancelike energy that develops over time in such traditional music. That said, this is all very well played, and the listener seeking inspiration can find many moments to draw on. (IU Music) Martin Patmos
Other Drummer-Leds to Check Out
Jeff Hamilton Trio Live From San Pedro/// Reggie Quinerly Words to Love /// Phil Parisot Creekside /// Jamal Batiste All Rock’d Up /// Eric Valentine Velvet Groove /// Duduka Da Fonseca Trio Plays Dom Salvador