Fred Anderson/Hamid Drake From the River to the Ocean

When esteemed tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson and otherworldly percussionist Hamid Drake convene for a record, something magical is expected. True to form, the two spearhead a stellar album with From the River to the Ocean, a timeless collection of composition and improvisation. With Tortoise’s John McEntire working the boards, the production is spare and unobtrusive, and the auxiliary players come through directly, which, given their talents, perfectly complements Anderson and Drake. Guitarist Jeff Parker (Tortoise, Isotope 217) confidently guides Anderson’s "Planet E” with texture and taste, while bassist Josh Abrams (Sticks and Stones) sets a haunting tone with the Moroccan acoustic bass (the guimbri) on the title track. Drake chants gently in Arabic during the latter, gradually increasing the intensity of the piece on frame drum, while Parker buzzes around him. Anderson is wily and masterful throughout, boldly skipping his way through his own blues on "Strut Time,” while Drake anchors the song with a deceptively heavy round on drums. By "Sakti/Shiva,” a relative calm releases the record, as Drake and Abrams create an eerie foundation for Anderson’s pensive horn. These sounds and modes are marked by tradition, by the inherent exploration within jazz and this is why From the River to the Ocean honours listeners with its classic but fresh structure. (Thrill Jockey)