Friday, July 13, 2012

Will Guthrie, Sticks, Stones and Breaking Bones

One of things I've been all my life is a drummer. Being that, I generally appreciate drum solos, especially excellent ones. Max Roach, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Barry Altschul, Andrew Cyrille, Tony Williams are a few that come to mind who have excelled, and of course many others.

Probably one of the hardest things to do is a full album of drum solos. To make it interesting, to make it musical is a great challenge. Others have done it lately; Will Guthrie just did it too on his Sticks, Stones & Breaking Bones (Antboy Music GA032).

It is drumming as music. First the set. He gets a good balance between cymbals and heads, all tuned together and well-miked for a vibrant sound. Then the playing itself, in part a product of working with simple motifs that can be transformed and extended--much like a fugal subject if very good can be subjected to all kinds of reworkings.

"Sticks" works out a fairly short series of these transformations. "Stones" is a sound and sound event sort of thing, with pointilistic-fanfare-like, rhythmically asymmetrical passages that are quite inventive and sonically totalized.

"Breaking Bones" is a long and nearly breathtaking transformational mantra-barrage. There are at times a taste of the ritual aspect of Japanese Kodo drumming. There's is a little something of Ginger Baker's "Toad" solos in their various incarnations. The beats repeat insistently and transform along the lines of a fugal subject as discussed above. It's an impressive and exhilarating piece of music.

This is one of the most interesting, musical and exciting drum solo recordings I've heard. If that sounds like something you would want to hear, then you are who this was recorded for. Highly recommended.

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