Released as a companion piece to Live at Houston Hall, a duet album with fellow drummer Grant Calvin Weston recorded in 2002, Solo Live Tonic comes from the same general era, but it's a fairly different proposition. Recorded on a small solo tour promoting his all-percussion solo album Black Elk Speaks, most of Solo Live Tonic (recorded at the New York City club of that name) is based on the principles of that album, transformed into expansive free jazz-style improvisational workouts rather than strict interpretations of the album's tracks. Fans of the sometimes clinical and academic-sounding album will be particularly interested in tracks like "Flora Aura," a fluid improvisation on the mbira, the African thumb piano that's one of the album's main instruments, or the similarly African-influenced improv "Burundi Drums" and "Talking Drum." There's a much looser feeling to this occasionally shambolic live set than the studio album afforded, making it more of an intriguing reworking of similar principles than a simple regurgitation.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason