Hera and Hamid Drake – “Seven Lines”


Hera - "Seven Lines"The term World Jazz was coined decades ago, used predominately to signify that strain of Jazz that was discarding many elements of bop and incorporating the folk music (and instrumentation) of various (overseas) regions.  Aside from the obvious US-centrism aspects of this designation, as jazz musicians began improvising with an even greater forms of non-jazz musics and as it became easier for musicians from different cultures to reach one another and collaborate, the usefulness of World Jazz as a tool for categorization has become increasingly poor.  At its inception, Jazz was already a crosscurrent of many musics… today, its scope is wider than ever.  It’s all World Jazz to some extent.

However, a great example of when that tag is completely on the mark can be found in Seven Lines, the new release by Hera, an ensemble that hails from Poland, and for this recording, brings in Chicagoan drummer Hamid Drake.  The ensemble is led by clarinetist Waclaw Zimpel, a musician who has developed a strong repertoire in the avant-garde and free improv scenes, but who also adopts other music forms as he expands his sound.  This new recording is no different.

Your album personnel: Wacław Zimpel (clarinet, alto clarinet, harmonium), Paweł Postaremczak (tenor & soprano saxes, harmonium), Maciej Cierlinski (hurdy-gurdy), Raphael Rogiński (guitar), Ksawery Wójciński (double bass), Paweł Szpura (drums), and Hamid Drake (drums, frame drum, vocal).

Recorded live at the 2012 Krakow Jazz Autumn Festival, this thrilling music has its share of free improvisation, while also expressing sounds rooted in Polish jazz and folk, music from the Western Provinces of Pakistan, Japanese court music, the music of Tibet (from which the title Seven Lines refers to a specific Tibetan prayer), traditional Russian music, and the euphoric groove of Afro-jazz.

The music typically presents itself as a drone, expressed at different frequencies of intensity, and often builds into something quite dramatic.  And no matter what shape or form that music takes at any particular moment, it is always a mesmerizing affair.

A track like “Afterimages” shifts between music that is wildly unhinged and a low current conductive groove, yet it maintains a hypnotic effect.  “Sounds of Balochistan” captivates the ear as a joyfully twisting folk dance as it is as a fuzzy ambient drone.  The balance between harmonic chants and hums and the double percussion attack of “Temples of Tibet” locks the ear in place, transfixed, only to be further beguiled when curling saxophone notes float on by.  The cries and burns of “Roofs of Kyoto,” for all their dissonance, draw the ear right in, and their effect is no different than the seaside languor of “Recalling Russia”.

Just a stunning album.  Had I been aware of this album at the time, it certainly would’ve made my Best of 2013.  Expect it to be included when I create my addendum column in the lead-up to the Best of 2014.

Released on MultiKulti Project.

Jazz from Poland.

Available at: Amazon MP3


Waclaw Zimpel - "Stone Fog"And here’s a LINK to my review of another Waclaw Zimpel project, his quartet album Stone Fog, which has a different sound but is no less intriguing.