New York-based percussionist
Kip Hanrahan (1954) came to prominence with a project of "neighborhood music" which looked like the urban, American equivalent of Lol Coxhill's "welfare state" project. Coup De Tete (january 1980), featuring several Latin percussionists, rock percussionist Anton Fier, atonal guitarist Arto Lindsay, flutist Byard Lancaster and an army of guests,
Desire Develops An Edge (june 1983), for vocalist Jack Bruce and an orchestra of rotating musicians, influenced by Carla Bley's Jazz Composers Orchestra,
Conjure (october 1983), with blues vocalist Taj Mahal fronting Murray, Scherer, Lindsay and the usual arsenal of Latin percussions,
and Vertical Currency (february 1984), for a smaller orchestra with rock vocalist Jack Bruce, Lindsay, tenor saxophonist David Murray, electronic keyboardist Peter Scherer, bassist Steve Swallow, four percussionists (including himself) and assorted guests,
offered exotic progressive jazz-rock performed by all-star casts and
drenched in a jungle of congas, bongos and the likes.
Hanrahan's exquisitely Latin-tinged "weltanschauung" permeated
the percussion-heavy funk-jazz world-music of
Days And Nights Of Blue Lucy Inverted (march 1987), with Allen Toussaint arranging the horns,
of the colossal and eclectic Tenderness (march 1990), with a huge cast of musicians (including rock vocalist Gordon "Sting" Sumner, pianist Don Pullen, tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman and drummer Andrew Cyrille)
of Exotica (may 1992), with Jack Bruce again fronting the big band,
and A Thousand Nights and a Night - Shadow Night (march 1996), the first installment in a nine-part composition.
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Il percussionista Kip
Hanrahan e' uno degli agenti catalizzatori piu' efficaci della
tumultuosa intellighenzia newyorkese. E' stato influente e geniale
nell'eliminare del tutto le separazioni fra jazz e rock, musica etnica e
Ha inventato una sua personale forma-canzone, un "lento" mellifluo per piccola
orchestra a ritmi esotici e con testi filosofici.
E' per la musica d'avanguardia l'analogo dell'auteur
cinematografico, e' un poeta in cerca del suo mezzo d'espressione.
Relying on Cuban rhythms and Brazilian melodies,
Coup De Tete (American Clave, 1981) basically launched a
"Latin progressive" fad that spanned rock and jazz territories.
Drowned in the jungle of congas, bongos and trap drums (Anton Fier), the Latin-funk shuffle of Whatever I Want radiated soul themes via the saxophone fanfares of Chico Freeman, Byard Lancaster and George Cartwright, while Arto Lindsay's guitar and Bill Laswell's bass penned a few disorienting lines. The communion between jazz, rock and Latin musicians could not have been more explicit.
The thicker texture created by the saxes and especially the undulations of Jamaaladeen Tacuma's bass lend At The Moment Of The Serve a jazzier feeling (still upset by Lindsay's metallic scratches).
Lisa Herman intones a delicate theme in This Night Comes Out Of Both Of Us and the saxophones are replaced by more tender flutes, but the percussions
double in rhythm and loudness, thus creating a stronger contrast.
Contrast soon becomes the real core of the experiment in revisiting the
tradition of Cuban bands.
Lindsay's atonal guitar and Tacuma's noir bass work wonders in
A Lover Divides Time and
No One Gets To Transcend Anything.
Michael Mantler's trumpet intones the most romantic theme of the collection in
Sketch from Two Cubas, while the percussions abandon the jovial
polyrhythm for a more ominous industrial cadence.
A trio of mad guitars (Lindsay, Fret Firth, Bill Frisell) details
Shadow To Shadow, perhaps the most surreal moment of the album.
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Con Coup De Tete (recorded 1980), inondato di ritmi cubani "bata" e onorato dalla
presenza di diversi nomi prestigiosi dell'intellighenzia newyorkese (da
Carla Bley a Arto Lindsay, da Teo Macero a Fret Firth),
Kip Hanrahan diede il via alla moda "latina progressiva" che covava da anni
negli ambienti rock e jazz.
Con l'album doppio, e piu' maturo, Desire Develops An Edge Hanrahan
si immerse invece nei ritmi Hawaiani, contando sul canto di Jack Bruce e
su una ventina di musicisti: il flusso ininterrotto delle percussioni
accompagna mutazioni jazz-rock di calypso (What Is This Dance) e samba
(The Life) che secernono ballate disperate intrise di saudade
(Nocturnal, Nancy). Hanrahan, amico dello scrittore Ishmael Reed
(alle cui liriche dedica le musiche di Conjure, con Taj Mahal al canto)
influenzato dall'esperienza nella Jazz Composers' Orchestra di Carla Bley,
si propone come il Godard dell'avanguardia etnica, fondatore di una
etichetta alternativa, "regista" di dischi e animatore della scena locale.
The result is an odd blend of Latin-jazz no-wave, prog-rock and pop muzak
performed by a stellar ensemble.
Arto Lindsay plays guitar on most of the tracks,
Jack Bruce sings on most of them,
and there are congas everywhere (Jerry Gonzalez, Puntilla Orlando Rios).
Two (Still In Half-Light) sports Steve Swallow and Jamaaladeen Tacuma on basses as well as Ricky Ford and John Stobblefield on tenor saxophones
(plus Bruce and Lindsay).
Early Fall has Anton Fier on percussion and Ricky Ford on tenor sax, besides Bruce and Lindsay.
Velasquez pits Bruce and Lindsay against the additional guitar of Jody Harris, and the rhythm section of Fier and Swallow.
The seven-minute (Don't Complicate) The Life (La Vie) does not feature
Lindsay but has Swallow and Jamaaladeen Tacuma on basses and Milton Cardona on percussion.
Jack Bruce sings All Us Working Class Boys (For Jack Bruce) accompanied by Stobblefield, Ford and Ned Rothenberg on tenor saxes, Lindsay on guitar and Swallow on bass.
Child Song has Bruce on bass, Lindsay on guitar and Milton Cardona on percussion.
Trust Me Yet? has Lindsay on guitar with Ford on tenor sax and Swallow on bass.
John Scofield guests on guitar in Nancy (The Silence Focuses On You), flanked by Swallow on bass.
Jerry Gonzalez shifts to trumpet in Desire Develops An Edge.
Bruce plays his bass in What Is This Dance, Anyway?, sung by
Molly Farley, with
Mario Rivera on baritone saxophone,
Hannibal Marvin Peterson on trumpet, and three tenor saxophonists
(Teo Macero, Ford and Stobblefield).
Meaning A Visa (For Puntilla, Olufemi And Jean Rouch) Jody Harris and Lindsay on guitars next to Swallow on bass.
Fier returns on percussion for
Nocturnal Heart (Coracao Noturno) (For John Stubblefield), with
Ford on tenor sax.
Jack Bruce plays his bass while Lindsay and John Scofield duet on guitars in Her Boyfriend Assesses His Value And Pleads His Case.
Jack And The Golden Palominos (For Chico Buarque) is the grand finale with Bruce fronting the ensemble of Lindsay and Harris on guitars, John Stobblefield on tenor sax, John Zorn on alto saxophone , Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass, and David Moss and Fier on percussions.
Vertical Currency (february 1984) riprende la collaborazione con Bruce e il resto
della pattuglia di Desire: Lindsay, Laswell, Fier, Harris, Frith, Bley,
Mantler, Macero, Bang, Murray, Bruce, piu' musicisti cubani, haitiani e
sudamericani, e con l'aggiunta del tastierista Peter Scherer e del
sassofonista David Murray. L'orchestra conferisce
alle melodie latine (Describing It To Yourself), ai calypso da cabaret
(What Do You Think), ai cha-cha da big band (Shadow Song),
ai jazz-rock (Smiles And Grims),
alle danze tropicali (One Casual Song, Intimate Distances)
un romantico spleen esistenziale. Meno sperimentale e
radicale dei precedenti, il disco approda pero' a un amalgama maturo e
accessibile di suoni rock e jazz, occidentali e africani. E, soprattutto,
e' un lirico testamento di angoscia e alienazione, piu' vicino alla saudade
brasiliana che allo sperimentalismo dei primi due dischi.
Hanrahan's exquisitely Latin-tinged "weltanschauung" permeates
Days And Nights Of Blue Lucy Inverted (march 1987 - American Clave, 1987),
although the music has lost much of its "neighborhood" low-key grandeur and
veered towards soul melody.
With the expection of the delirious syncopation of
A Poker Game, Luck Inverts Itself, Four Swimmers,
the percussions are pushed to the back and melody reigns.
The problem is that Hanrahan is not such a gifted singer. The symbiosis between
him and the band works when it the voice duets with a flute in
Marriage, or in the
Art Bears-ish psychodrama Lisbon, Blue Request or in the
noir atmosphere Road Song, i.e. when the song is not just a "song",
but overall the music often sounds like half-baked easy listening.
On the colossal Tenderness (march 1990 - American Clave, 1990), with a huge cast of musicians, Jack Bruce was replaced by
Sting, while Bobby Womack replaced Taj Mahal for
Conjure's second album, Cab Calloway Stands In For The Moon (American Clave, 1988).
Exotica (American Clave, 1992), with Jack Bruce again on vocals,
was another display of avant world funk-jazz music, while
All Roads Are Made of the Flesh (American Clave, 1995) sounds like a minor work of leftovers.
A Thousand Nights and a Night - Shadow Night (march 1996 - American, 1997), the first installment in a nine-part composition, is another all-star cast employed to
disassemble the border between jazz, rock, funk and world-music.
Shadow Nights Vol 2 (American, 1998) is the second part.
Hanrahan scored the soundtrack for Leon Ichaso's film Pinero (2001).
The next incarnation of Hanrahan's melancholy Latin pop-jazz was
Beautiful Scars (march 2007 - American Clave, 2007). A roster of seven vocalists
alternate at fronting the songs. The ensemble features bassist Steve Swallow (co-composer of several of the best numbers) and Latin-American percussionist Milton Cordona.
The rhumba Busses From Heaven sets the tone for the album with its thick tapestry of percussion and its languid melody.
Billy Bang's violin dominates the lengthy pop ballad Real Time and Beautiful Scars, whose calm vocals are undermined by another frenzied deluge of Latin percussion.
The most lilting chorus is to be found in Caravaggio/ A Quick Balance,
replete with orchestral swoons, insistent saxophone and feathery vibraphone.
The most charming atmosphere surfaces from the decadent lullaby Night Cumbia, crafted by the sleepy sensual lament of Leijia Hanrahan and by a lulling organ.
Cuban vocalist Xiomara Laugart leads the nocturnal Xiomarra Wears the Heat Beautifully, scoured by trotting percussion, atonal piano, lugubrious vibraphone and romantic saxophone, basically an exercise in incoherent polyphony.
Several pieces (Salt in the Mozambique Evening, Rumba of Cities) are avantgarde rhythmic studies disguised as reckless dances.
Crescent Moon Waning (American Clave, 2017), several years in the making, featured Robbie Ameen (trap drums and percussion) Milton Cardona and Lusito Quintero (congas), Fernando Saunders (bass and vocals), Michael Chambers (guitar) Brandon Ross (guitar and vocals), Charles Neville (reeds), plus Craig Handy and Chico Freeman who guest on sax, Steve Swallow and Jack Bruce on electric bass, Jennifer Hernandez, Roberto Poveda and Lucia Ameen (singers).
Operine come Days And Nights Of Blue Lucy Inverted (con una formazione
che annovera Murray, Bruce, Anton Fier e Charles Neville) confermeranno nel
tempo questa sua weltanschauung latineggiante.