William Hooker

Joy (Within)!

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This CD is just your typical violin/drums duet. Although the instrumentation (drummer William Hooker and violinist Billy Bang) sounds hopelessly incomplete, the music is surprisingly satisfying. Taken from two Knitting Factory concerts that were part of a pair of "What Is Jazz" festivals, the music features plenty of rumbling drums from Hooker and droning violin by Bang. Bang's ability to build up his solos from practically nothing, using repetition and passion rather than melodic development, works very well in this setting. Hooker begins each performance with a solo, and when Bang enters, the violinist captures and then extends the drummer's ideas. Although Bang takes a flute solo in the middle of the second set and there are short unaccompanied sections, the emphasis is on the interplay and blending of the two masterful (and slightly crazy) performers. The earlier concert lasts 42 continuous minutes, with its six pieces representing moods rather than specific themes; the opening 17-minute "Sweating Brain" is the high point of the CD. The later concert has the final three pieces (over 26 minutes) and almost reaches the same heights. A fascinating release.

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