Abbey Rader is acutely conscious that his inner dynamic is to always innovate and so following the prompts of the self the drummer is on an eternal quest to improvise, worshiping – always – at the altar of originality. The American Buddhist has chiseled his impressive body of work from out of the bedrock of African-American Jazz. But while that may imply a pastiche of archetypal bebop and swing models, instead Mr Rader forces his listeners to reconsider what the tradition of (even) free improvised music is.
In these two performances: Ritual with Kyle bassist Motl and tenor saxophonist Drew Ceccato, and in the Phenobarbital Sessions with saxophonist and pianist John McMinn, Abbey Rader positions himself in creative conflict with the latest protocols of how a drummer will interact with other rhythmic instruments as well as with other harmonic ones. By actively throwing overboard melodic, structural and harmonic hooks that have become expressively blunted through overuse, he builds from what might – or might not – be left.
Abbey Rader | Kyle Motl | Drew Ceccato: Ritual The instinctive radicalism of Abbey Rader has made him the source of endless controversy. Short of being charged with cultural vandalism, it would not be unusual to find that he is marginalized as he shreds even unfamiliar strains of the tenor saxophone as played by Drew Ceccato on this recording. Pureéing sublime harmonic gestures from the saxophone and rhythmic ones from the contrabass into agitatedly ticking motor rhythms and volatile white noise, wrenching his instrument apart and then reassembling the debris again, Mr Rader plays a yeoman set with his young band mates. Definitions of ‘beauty’ are central to Abbey Rader’s aesthetic credo. Musically he seems to argue here that artists must make a distinction between perfumed listener-ingratiating beauty typical of commercial music – which is always something he regards as disturbingly commercial music, while here he often evokes ‘noise’ – in the sense of natural noise – is like the wind blowing through the rustling leaves and this is not only Abbey Rader being singular, but gravity-defying.
Track list – 1: Circles Drawn; 2: Ritual; 3: Inferiority; 4: Conjurations; 5: Circles Broken
Personnel – Abbey Rader: drums and percussion; Kyle Motl: contrabass; Drew Ceccato: tenor saxophone
Released – 2017
Label AbRay Productions
Runtime – 46:10
Abbey Rader | John McMinn: Phenobarbital Sessions This 2017 recording is another landmark recording by Abbey Rader, with the saxophonist and long-time cohort, John McMinn. It redraws the musical topography of modernist solo and duet performances as both Mr Rader and Mr McMinn shepherd their crack instruments through an hour or so of improvised music without each musician compromising his sound-world. Appropriate nomenclature for songs that are not easy to nail; yet no one plays this (improvised) music better than Abbey Rader and John McMinn; certainly none of it is better suited to work by increasing the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitters of the brain and in each track – short or long – it sounds as if both musicians hear in their respective inner ears music that moves off the radar of conventional instrumental timbre, to unerringly zone into the intentions of the other, realising each other’s intentions perfectly. As a result nothing sounds more vivid and dramatic than this music. John McMinn brilliantly shapes a pacey whole from Abbey Rader’s fragments, while the drummer aims his hushed sonorities and full frontal attacks back at Mr McMinn generating structural arcs that his extended instrumental techniques simultaneously shatter, sending melodic cells scattering to the outer limits of our ability to hear them.
Track list – 1: Envelope (solo); 2: Take 8; 3: Accident (duet); 4: Murder (duet); 5: Take 3; 6: Take 2; 7: Wandering (solo); 8: Confrontation (duet); 9: Take 5; 10: Take 7; 11: Envelope (duet); 12: Murder (solo); 13: Wandering (duet); 14: Take 1; 15: Take 4; 16: Take 6
Personnel – Abbey Rader: drums, gongs and percussion; John McMinn: alto and soprano saxophones, and piano
Released – 2017
Label – AbRay Productions
Runtime – 1:10:32