Skeeter Shelton/Hamid Drake: Sclupperbep LP (Two Rooms Records, 2021)

October 30, 2021 at 12:35 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Skeeter Shelton/Hamid Drake: Sclupperbep LP

As the back cover of the LP explains, Detroit saxophonist Skeeter Shelton and Chicago drummer Hamid Drake found themselves playing an improv gig at Trinosophes in Detroit after Drake’s partner fell sick. It was their first time meeting, letting alone playing together, although both musicians have AACM connections, and everyone who witnessed the performance was blown away. Drake then scheduled a day to drive to Detroit to record with Shelton, and after nine hours of driving due to a snow storm, he just decided to start playing immediately. The two ended up playing for two hours (with a brief pause), improvising as well as playing some of Shelton’s material, which Drake hadn’t heard. The album edits the session to showcase Shelton’s themes and melodies, and it opens with the joyous dance of “We Must Play Music For the Children” (actually written by Shelton’s father, Ajamaru Shelton) and “Attic”. “The Call” starts out reminiscent of the beginning of A Love Supreme, then zooms off into different directions with fractured drumming and angular, zig-zagging sax. “Tru” is a brief interlude of rattling, shaking percussion and mystical flute. After the sprawling, tumbling “Forest Dancer”, “Charles Miles” is significantly cooler and more subdued, calmly striding in the shadows but keeping a kick in its step. The second side lists two tracks, but it all seems to flow as one continuous sound stream, and it feels a bit more detached, unmoored, out in the unknown. Stay plugged in and it does end up bouncing off the walls with vibrant, kinetic energy, only to make a sudden turn towards solemn reflection by the end.

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