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

Hamid Drake & Michael Zerang 

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There's no better way to defrost the dead of winter than with percussionists Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang and the dreams they conjure of arid desert, beating sun, sweat, and sand. Drawing primarily on the warm sound of frame drums, which trace back to ancient Mesopotamia, they play earthy world music without new-age sentimentality. Pulse-driven and mesmerizing, their music sets up rhythmic cycles. One minute you'll feel the two of them draw apart, generating independent patterns of surface taps and resonant bass tones with the pads of their fingers. Then suddenly they'll snap back into sync like a rubber band, pounding out a 41-beat cycle in seamless unison. This is the fourth year that Zerang and Drake have held their winter solstice celebration, and it always has a special kind of energy. A tireless percussaholic and one of the swingingest jazz drummers in Chicago, Drake is fluent in every imaginable drum-based idiom, from reggae to free jazz. The heartbeat of the Vandermark Quartet and one-third of Liof Munimula (our city's oldest free improvising ensemble), Zerang is incredibly versatile and experienced. You have to hear him work out on the gulping Middle Eastern dumbek, maybe in tandem with Drake's north Indian tabla. Sunday, 4 PM, Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield; 281-0824.

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

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