Hamid Drake

Brothers Together

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A simple premise: Bring together two remarkably creative freestyle jazz musicians and let them loose. Predictably, the results are mostly unpredictable, and if just saxophone plus drums seems a bit limiting, these talented players do their best to overcome the inherent restrictions. Hamid Drake has performed with some of the best saxophonists worldwide -- most notably with Peter Brötzmann -- so the percussionist knows how to interact forcefully and passionately without overwhelming his partner. Mateen, too, has the depth of experience to play for a full hour without unnecessarily repeating himself. In part, he does this by bringing to the table an array of instruments -- clarinets, flute, alto saxophone, and tenor saxophone -- each of which he performs with consummate skill. If there is some tedium, it is more the consequence of the limited instrumentation than the fault of the musicians, who are in peak form. The four tracks are largely freely improvised and without noticeable melody. Along the way is some brilliant soloing by Drake on "Of Mind & Spirit" and astonishing clarinet technique by Mateen on "Knowing Oneself." This might be a good introduction for those who have heard of Mateen but are unfamiliar with his work. It presents him in unadulterated form, with lots of space for improvising. A minor giant of the reeds, he and Drake are an imposing pair, and there is much here to savor.

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