Hamid Drake & Michael Zerang | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Hamid Drake & Michael Zerang 

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Recordings aren't enough: a traditional music is truly alive only as long as somebody somewhere is actually playing it. But just playing it won't do, either. You have to keep the music moving forward--otherwise it collects dust. Take some pointers from the way Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang dig eagerly into possibilities offered by the various drums and drumming traditions of north Africa and the Middle East. Rather than trying too hard to reexperience the past, they treat the heritage of the def, dumbek, tabla, and other instruments as a thread to be picked up and carried somewhere--anywhere. Coupling ancient tradition to their own experience as percussionists (between the two of them, they've done everything from anchoring rock bands to riffing with Don Cherry to making belly dancers wiggle), Drake and Zerang have built a solid duo identity on a repertoire of satisfyingly round, full pieces that move forward with more than enough dangerous looseness to keep their act from resembling some dry academic demonstration of Arts of the Ancient Near East. Their music is an example of the kind of living cultural history that carpet bombing cannot destroy. Sunday, 3 PM, Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield; 281-0824.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sherry Antonini.

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