William Hooker

Black Mask

Knitting Factory Records (KFW 305)

William Hooker, drums; Andrea Parkins, keyboards & accordion; Jason Hwang, violin & electronics; Roy Nathanson, tenor saxophone.

In many respects, the musical approach presented in Black Mask is among the most challenging to the experienced performer. Even in this new century, how many instrumentalists are willing to set aside written scores and other preconceptions in favor of extemporized performance?

Certainly, the ability to trust one's intuition and react accordingly are central here. The ever-changing content demands instrumental virtuosity, and most importantly, the ability to sense where the forms will lead. Investigation of uncharted terrain is not for the faint of heart.

Like Rashied Ali, William Hooker is among the great, musical drummers. His tightly-controlled polyrhythms and attention to thematic development contrasts the all-out bludgeoning that has marred the work of lesser groups. Listen to the rising waves of energy that characterize his work on the first three tracks, "Volatility," "Orange," and "Morphology," which flow together seamlessly, like a suite. Or, how he beautifully colors and complements Hwang's pizzicato violin in Binocular Vision, and Nathanson's polytonal explorations on An Unknown Feeling.

There are many great moments here.

James D. Armstrong, Jr.


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