Taking the Reins
Man Forever Play What They Want
With his latest drum project, Oneida’s John Colpitts, aka Kid Millions, trashes musical labels while thrashing his kit.
Aided by contributions from the percussion ensemble Tigue and avant-garde icon Laurie Anderson, among others, John Colpitts (i.e., Man Forever) often electrifies and sends percussive shockwaves undulating through stratified sonic layers of drones, jazz, polymetric playfulness, and hypnotic minimalism. Track four, “Twin Torches,” is a genre-hopping tour de force, buzzing with fiery, funky, syncopated patterns that both complement and counteract Anderson’s icy spoken-word transmissions. This material does have its precedents, including Anderson’s own Big Science, but the artistic trajectory plotted here should provide inspiration for drummers toiling in ambiguous genres.
(Thrill Jockey) Will Romano
Adam Deitch Quartet Egyptian Secrets
Anyone needing proof of the scope of Deitch’s drumming craft will be convinced by this joyously grooving set.
Borrowing saxman Ryan Zoidis and trumpeter Eric Bloom from Lettuce, and importing San Francisco organist Wil Blades, Adam Deitch creates a jazzy, funky space on Egyptian Secrets that is both 1960s Blue Note cool and 2017 neo-fusion. Deitch blends, bends, and bashes on the bopping “Dot Org,” trademark drags and ghost notes fully in evidence. “Fear of the Blades” features a tasty staccato part from the keyboardist, while the horns go JB and the drummer’s rich beats nod to David Garibaldi and Bernard Purdie. Five minutes in, Deitch offers a beautifully rhythmic and sonically diverse collection of three-bar solo treats. And the sweetly retro Latin-jazz concoction “Progressions” previews his sultry pocket on “Summer”—double backbeats, perfect instinct and dynamic control, kick always on time. (Golden Wolf) Robin Tolleson
Nate Smith Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere
Taylor Haskins Gnosis
NATE SMITH showcases his multitude of skills on two very different records.
Nate Smith has elevated bassist Dave Holland’s group to lofty heights, but the drummer’s work elsewhere is equally intriguing. His debut solo record, Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere, runs the gamut from the head-bobbing hip-hop beats of “Bounce: Parts I & II” to the busy snare chatter and insistent ride cymbal playing of “Spinning Down.” His is a fully formed sound, and he’s equally at home demonstrating exceptional hand speed as he is playing the softest ballad. Smith’s basic rock beat plus tambourine underneath the vocals on “Morning and Allison” is not out to impress drummers—it simply works as the perfect accompaniment. (Ropeadope)
On trumpeter Taylor Haskins’ EDM-drenched Gnosis, Smith digs into what’s essentially an acoustic drumkit with on-the-grid precision and chops galore. Check out “The View From Here” for snare and kick drum combos sounding as if a computer was fighting its own programming, and the chill brush beat on the title track that’s pure late-night comedown. Then marvel at the blazing hi-hat sticking throughout “Equal Night” for a taste of Smith’s technical wizardry. This electronic/acoustic hybrid territory has been mined before, but with beautiful production and playing, Gnosis warrants a listen. (Recombination) Ilya Stemkovsky
Chickenfoot Best + Live
Highlights from the group’s 2009 debut, the driving new studio track “Divine Termination,” and an exhilarating live set make up this blown-out comp.
While comparisons to Van Halen were inevitable—the group’s lineup features VH alumni Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony alongside Chili Peppers drummer CHAD SMITH and famed guitarist Joe Satriani—Chickenfoot stacks up well. And Chad fans get to hear the drummer let loose in this setting like he rarely gets to elsewhere, with the double-time groove ending “Soap on a Rope” and the tom breakdown in “Get It Up” being just two examples. Elsewhere, Smith’s accents set up game guitarist Satriani on “Oh Yeah” before settling into a double backbeat, and things get funky on the instrumental section of “Future in the Past” and the cowbell-sparked turnaround of “Big Foot.” The funk-rock fusion of “Dubai Blues,” with flirty hesitations and tension-building offbeats, adds more testimony to Smith’s great feel. The live tracks offer jam space, and it’s fun to hear Chad pilot the delta-flavored “Something Going Wrong” and fill it up under Satriani’s sustain on “Avenida Revolution.” Pure go-for-the-throat fun. (eOne Music) Robin Tolleson
Mark Wingfield/Markus Reuter/Yaron Stavi/
Asaf Sirkis The Stone House
Completely improvised live in the studio, a brave, bold album comes forth.
The music opens with ethereal guitar tones, which thicken before being shattered by a snare fill, leading into a syncopated groove. From there, patterns emerge and shift, as the players move in and out of the spotlight. In order to be successful, improvisation involves not just instrumental ability and spontaneity but listening and trust. The Stone House features the work of musicians steeped in the improvisational and progressive arts, joining their guitars (Mark Wingfield and Markus Reuter), bass (Yaron Stavi), and drums (ASAF SIRKIS) in the moment. The results are exceptional. With Robert Fripp–like soundscapes swirling above rhythmic bass motifs, Sirkis’s drums punch, prod, groove, color, and move the complex music forward. It sounds like it was a blast to play, and repeated listens show just how successful an adventurous approach like this can be. (Moonjune) Martin Patmos
Iconoclast Driven to Defiance
After three decades spent blending influences from the
fringes of Western music, this duo breaks new ground on
its tenth album.
While the music that LEO CIESA (drums, percussion, keyboards) and Julie Joslyn (alto sax, electronics, violin) make as Iconoclast is often called jazz, that descriptor feels incomplete. Moody brass certainly shows up often, but the drumming that permeates the duo’s records hardly succumbs to the swinging, ride-centric approach that dominated jazz throughout the twentieth century. Instead, Ciesa’s take on experimental jazz drumming features him keeping time on precisely pitched tom-toms as much as on the cymbals. The effect is pleasantly disorienting, with jazzy melodies sitting atop drum patterns previously reserved for speed metal. While the abrasive, improvisational approach to rhythm and melody may be off-putting to some listeners, there are enough rhythmically predictable moments (in “The Flat Magnetic Girl,” for instance) to keep the music from wandering too far afield. (Fang) Keaton Lamle
Diego Barber One Minute Later
Guitarist Barber assembles an ideal rhythm section for this thrilling release.
It’s elating to hear ERIC HARLAND, one the jazz world’s highest-profile drummers, in this decidedly fresh context and in tandem with the impressive young percussionist ALEJANDRO COELLO. Spanish guitarist and composer Diego Barber (now residing in New York) cites the discovery of his fellow countryman Coello—an artist bred from classical music who contributes marimba, vibraphone, timpani, gongs, and kalimba—as one of the inspirations for this outing. Indeed, the teaming of Harland and Coello is a brilliant coup. Harland is astonishing with his powerfully grooving yet open, flexible drumming. Playing his kit as a holistic instrument, he shapes whirling, pulsing textural surges while Coello supports and orchestrates in a union creating limitless colorations. Though Coello’s parts are largely written, there’s explosive spontaneity when he and Harland interact. And bassist Ben Williams nails it. Navigating his classical guitar with stunning technique, Barber organically blends jazz, classical, funk, and world-groove, all made sublime by this dream team. (Sunnyside) Jeff Potter
OM Trio Pummeling Angle
An all-access pass to tour vans, cheap motels, festival stages, and the fruits and frustrations inherent in being a traveling band.
OM Trio was never as much about the notes as the vibe—really more of an instrumental trance-dub dance band than a “fusion” group. These eight hours of footage taken between 2000 and 2008 provide ample proof of the group’s commitment to its music, and of the groove-making prowess of Ilya Stemkovsky. The drummer (and regular MD contributor) is equally attentive to drive and dynamics, while also open-minded and creative; he’s often the instigator as well as the generator. OM Trio got tight, developed great trust, and—as heard in the various versions of “24 Hours to New Orleans” here, from the High Sierra Festival, Tribeka Rock Club, 32 Bleu, and the Alley—worked hard to keep evolving. (Slim Trim) Robin Tolleson
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