Earlier this month I was fortunate to see Hamid Drake play in Paris at Musée du quai Branly. He played with Michael Zerang (drums) and Dee Alexander (vocals). That’s it. Just the three of them. I hadn’t seen a drum-vocal show before, and I was curious as how it would play out. To cut to the chase, it was great!
I’ve been a huge fan of Hamid Drake for years. I’ve seen him play with the late-great Fred Anderson many times in Chicago, with the inimitable saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, with the incredible DKV Trio, and with a few other lineups. For my money, Hamid Drake is in a class all his own. His improvisation is magisterial, his rhythm and straight-ahead jazz playing are incomparable, and his sensitivity to his bandmates on stage is palpable and gripping. I never saw Elvin Jones play, but Drake’s drumming always evokes Jones’s power, innovation, and downright masterful sense of timing and direction à la the epic Village Vanguard recordings with Coltrane, Tyner, Workman, Garrison, Dolphy, Abdul-Malik, and Bushell.
In the Paris show, from the opening note — Alexander’s solo invocations of “Rama” (sidenote: I wondered if she was chanting the name of the Hindu god Rama and thus referencing the Sanskrit epic Ramayana) — the show was nothing short of spectacular. I only wish it would have been a bit longer. Isn’t that always the case with great acts…Thanks to Arte Live Web you can now watch the entire show! And watch it again, if you want, or keep it playing in the background. Give yourself a treat, grab a drink, and click on the link below to see it. Hamid_Drake__Michael_Zerang_et_Dee_Alexander_au_Musee_du_Quai_Branly