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

Hamid Drake & Michael Zerang 

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The winter solstice is inherently rhythmic, marking the cyclical movement of the planet and the passage of fall into winter. Percussionists Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang regularly celebrate the great universal rhythm with a concert of more immediately tangible tempi. This weekend will be their fifth annual Winter Solstice Percussion Concert (due to the overcrowding of last year's single show they've added a second performance and reservations are mandatory). The hour-long event will begin before dusk with the winter sun's blue light illuminating Link's Hall's intimate stage; by the end of the performance, the sounds will emanate from a darkened room, the insistent rhythm of day passing into night only mildly contradicted by the dim, warm glow of a few candles. Years past found the dynamic duo concentrating on hand percussion--especially frame drums, of which they jointly own a small battalion--and highly structured long rhythmic cycles that diverge and reassemble in delightful patterns. But last season, true to their ever-adventurous selves, Zerang and Drake departed from that tradition and played a concert of freely improvised percussion that culminated in a completely transporting trap-set interaction. Whether they're plying a pulsed beat--conjuring impossible polyrhythmic statements on Mandingo djembe, rhythms on North Indian tabla, and gulping tones on Middle Eastern dumbek--or digging into a barrage of nonmetrical free-jazz drumming, Drake and Zerang use the solstice as a good excuse to honor all rhythms great and small. Saturday and Sunday, 4 PM, Link's Hall Studio, 3435 N. Sheffield; 281-0824.

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

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