Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hera with Hamid Drake - Seven Lines (2013) *****

Hera (band)

Wacław Zimpel - clarinet, alto clarinet, harmonium
Paweł Postaremczak - tenor & soprano saxophones
Ksawery Wójciński - double bass
Paweł Szpura - drums
Rafael Rogiński - guitar
Maciej Cierliński - hurdy-gurdy
Special guest: Hamid Drake - drums, frame frum, voice

Seven Lines (2013)

By Martin Schray

Germany’s standard work on jazz, Joachim-Ernst Berendt’s and Günther Huesmann‘s “The Jazz Book”, claims that in the last 20 years jazz has become world music, a hybrid. Of course, jazz actually has always been world music since New Orleans was a cultural melting pot of nationalities, races and cultures, but in times of migration and globalization jazz has indeed established as the improvised music between the cultures more than ever before. Today, in our interlinked world, music of the most various, overlapping, different, even competing styles has been colliding. Moreover, you don’t even have to be from – say – India to play ragas, you can find great – in this case – raga musicians almost everywhere (especially in the big cities). And many of these musicians speak of themselves as members of the jazz community.

An excellent example of this theory is Hera, a Polish band consisting of Wacław Zimpel (clarinet, bass clarinet, harmonium), Paweł Postaremczak (soprano and tenor saxes, harmonium), Ksawery Wójciński (double bass) and Paweł Szpura (drums). They have always been one of this blog’s favorites, Stef has rightfully talked of their debut album and “Where my Complete Beloved is” in glowing terms. But while these albums, which were recorded with a completely different line-up, are either clearly in the Coltrane tradition or knee-deep in Zydeco (or both), Zimpel and his collaborators try the big strike with this release, which is why the band has expanded and is now augmented with Rafael Rogiński (guitar), Maciej Cierliński (hurdy-gurdy) and American master percussionist Hamid Drake.

“Seven Lines” includes Polish folk songs and Jewish klezmer (something you might expect when you see Zimpel and Rogiński in the line-up) but also music from the Far East, Sufi chants, blues sprinkles, African funk or free jazz elements.

Especially the harmonium and Maciej Cierliński’s hurdy-gurdy provide for a very oriental mood in “Sounds of Balochistan” before a repetitive blues riff comes up so that the reeds can kick off melancholic lines and the guitar can add shredded intersperses. Even here they have got you, from the very beginning the music develops a vibrating, vortex-like quality, it overwhelms the senses with an almost psychedelic force. The rhythmic propulsion provided by the double drums reinforces the trance-like, hypnotic character of the tracks, there are so many magical moments in this music, it is an omnipresent experience of sound, rhythm, atmosphere and melody, it takes you by the hand and leads you to a musical Garden of Eden. Just listen to the mourning interplay of the reeds at the beginning of “Roofs of Kyoto”, the meditative spirituality of Drake’s voice in combination with the drums and the harmonium in “Temples of Tibet” or the funk groove outro of “Afterimages” which can match with Drake’s Wels quartet (with Brötzmann, Gania and Laswell) on “Long Story Short”. 2013 has been a very good year for the music we love so much, there have been lots of brilliant albums so far. “Seven Lines” is definitely among them.

The album was recorded live at Manggha during Krakow Jazz Autumn Festival on Nov, 1st, 2012 and is available on CD.

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