A bass drum duo is a tough task to successfully pull off and a tough sell regardless. We recorded one on CIMP 137 (Jay Rosen-Dominic Duval: The Wedding Band) largely at my suggestion and while it was a delightful realization, it brought me face to face with the combination of talent and form and dynamics necessary to sustain the listener’s interest. This time around, it was at the suggestion of Wilber. I was skeptical. I said we could give it a try. Wilber had little patience for my skepticism and willfully said, “We’re not going to be trying nothing, we’re going to do it. We’ve got this worked out.” And so when Wilber and Reggie came up as part of the Yuko Fujiyama Quartet, we set aside the evening and night prior to that session to record their plan, or at least to give it a try. By twilight, as I write this paragraph, I am confident about only two tracks (AfroAmerind – a nod to Wilber’s African, Indian, and American ancestry, and NYC an encore-like piece – self explanatory for a duo who’d like to take this show on the road) and it adds to the unstated tension.
Everybody involved wants this to be successful, most of all the duo, for they have plans; they hear it. But wanting it, even hearing it, does not by itself make a successful realization. In fact, I’d say that often hearing it so clearly has been more of an impediment in the realization because the artists hear it so clearly the music doesn’t breathe naturally. And then, in slips Chazz, Wilber’s nod to Mingus and the odds as to the possibility of successful realization shift closer to the fulcrum of the finish. A second take of Wisdom of Procreation follows, half as long and more involving than the first take 2 hours earlier. Reggie’s happy because the first take had the birds chirping and he felt it appropriate to the theme of procreation, and when on this take, near the end, a cat begins meowing, his face lights up in smiles.
And now as Wilber wails in vocal invocation on In Distant Tongues I begin to address the variety of material and the possibility of the successful whole. It is 9:30 p.m. Reggie announces that the next idea (OK, In Five Minutes/Wee) will be solos. Reggie is first and follows a cadence that suggests (incorrectly, I’m told later) to me that at one time he was part of a street band. The transition, through the decay of cymbals, is over to Wilber who makes a wonderful juxtaposition by entering with bow. It is a meeting of head and heart, reflective of where Wilber is today. I am beginning to be won over and my enthusiasm grows.
We take another break. The breaks are numerous but make the space necessary for renewed invention. We discuss individual objectives, find the compatible space, agree on procedure and strategy, and then regroup for Sketches of (Delilah), a nod to Max & Clifford.
Some more retakes and we’re finished, and after we’re finished Reflection on Hip Hop is bagged, a little interplay off bas(e)s.
A bass/drum duo. Well, yes, but more: a drum string thing.
Robert D. Rusch – 7/31/00