Hamid Drake Quartet with Kidd Jordan, William Parker, and Cooper-Moore
Part of what makes Hamid Drake such a special musician is his staunch devotion to collective music-making: he’s deeply invested in making every project he’s involved in sound better, perpetually elevating the improvisational fire and ensemble-oriented ethos. That doesn’t mean that he disappears into the background. No matter the context, it seems like you can always pick Drake out of the din—his forceful style, deeply ingrained pulse-feel (even when it’s only implied in the loosest manner), and multi-traditional mastery always seem to throb at the heart of every project he’s involved with—yet he’s only sparingly led his own bands over a career now in its fifth decade.
This protean quartet bears Drake’s name, but even if one of the other top-flight improvisers were in charge you can bet Drake’s efforts would still be the same. Outside of Drake’s inextricable links to the late Fred Anderson—his greatest mentor and colleague—bassist William Parker might be the percussionist’s truest musical brother; they form one of improvised music’s most malleable, grooving, and powerful rhythm sections. Both Anderson and Drake are, like New Orleans saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan, Louisiana natives, but their ties to go much deeper. For many years Jordan was a fixture at Anderson’s legendary Velvet Lounge during the Chicago Jazz Festival, where he hosted epic jam sessions after the action ended in Grant Park each night, and Drake was usually on the drum throne. New York’s Cooper-Moore is a regular fixture in bands led by Parker as well as the last groups of the late saxophonist David S. Ware, equally inventive and soulful on piano as he his own homemade versions of primitive instruments like the diddley-bo.