Various - Drum Nation Volume One

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9065-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 66:25:00

This collection may be called Drum Nation, but don't think it means a collection of extended drums solos. These are complete pieces where drums form an important part or are the centerpiece. A project thought up by Magna Carta's Pete Morticelli and done in collaboration with Modern Drummer magazine, Drum Nation gathers together 14 drummers, each represented by a piece a piece, though actually Steve Smith and Zakir Hussain appear on two tracks, "Mad Tea Time Part 1" and "Mad Tea Time Part II." Even if you are not a drum head, there is quite a bit to appreciate on this album anyway, and mainly because each artist on here contributes a piece of music that happens to have been composed by a drummer. And what also seems apparent from the pieces here is that these mean are an egoless bunch ... again that means you won't find indulgent drum solos. Oh, there are drums solos to be sure -- the comp's closer "Pull Up My Sleeve" is nothing but drums and percussion - two sets of them in fact, mastered by Stephen Perkins and Brooks Wackerman (a truly amazing study of what can be done with drums and imagination) -- but ... there's no drum wankery going on for the sake of wanking.

Included in this set are Terry Bozzio, Bill Bruford, Simon Phillips, Rod Morgenstein, Tim Alexander and Chad Wackerman among others - a veritable "who's who" of drummers. Most of the pieces tend toward jazzier, fusiony realms; Bozzio's contribution "A Glimpse Into A Deeply Disturbed Mind" and Tim Alexander and Brain's "Shut Up And Play Your Drums" are not so easily definable.

In the first, techno-experimental might come close with digital elements accompanying Bozzio on analog drums. Not taking the "easy" way out, but here's what I said about this track in my review of Bozzio's Prime Cuts -- [this] is what you might have expected from the "Sick Jazz Surgery" title [another track on the PC CD] ... drums pound and explode out of the speakers, yet still with a measured force. Effects create a fuzzed guitar element, and Bozzio's highly "effected" vocals give this a very digital, synthetic feel... like one has walked into... a world that is one part Blade Runner, one part 1984, and one part some dark, violent, super-cynical cyberpunk film... a movie that could only be made by some Ridley Scott/Quentin Tarentino hybrid. It's gritty, greasy, rough and dangerous, and the pounding drums only heighten one's anxiety and make the heart race. The intensity might go on just a bit too long, though it's only 8:47 in length...

Broody and moody is how I would describe "Shut Up And Play Yer Drums" - an homage to the Zappa piece "Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar" composed by Tim Alexander and Brain. That moodiness comes from a loose and dark bass. Over this back drop are played drums and percussion (of course) from both Alexander and Brain. What starts out as sparse coalesces in to controlled chaos. It's arty-proggy abstract art that I quite like, though I have to say I quite like all the pieces on offer here.

All of which makes the jazzy works of Bill Bruford's Earthworks - a reworking of "Beezlebub" seem "tame" in comparison. This is a cheery tune, featuring bass clarinet and soprano sax courtesy of Tim Garland. Funny how the soprano sax has become so associated with smooth jazz ... the honking and darker tones of that bass clarinet and Bruford's drumming alone tell you this is not "smooth jazz." It's a very warm piece... Bruford notes in the liner notes that this was "the first piece I wrote for my first album in 1977 and is given a new and acoustic lease of life here." Yes indeed (um, no pun intended there). Lighter, jazzier fare also comes in the form of "Wandering Portland Maine," which Marco Minnemann composed while spending a day off during a solo concert tour of Maine.

"Beezlebub" is followed by the equally tasty, sultry, hot piece "Mad Tea Time Part I," which, like "Part II" pairs drummer Smith and tabla player Hussain, with fellow Summit players Fareed Haque (sitar guitar), Kai Eckhardt (bass) and Summit leader George Brooks (tenor sax and tamboura). This is a far cry from Journey, as you will think listening to Smith solo that comprises most of "Part II." Smith notes, "'Mad Tea Time' is melodically based on the raga called 'Madhuvanti' that, in India, is often played in the afternoon (tea time)" and later notes, "When I play with Zakir I use my Sonor Jungle Set (a small drum set with a 16" bass drum), Zildjian Flat and Splash Cymbals, and 'bundled rods' instead of sticks."

Stanton Moore's "Sprung Monkey" is a brassy piece featuring Ben Ellman on baritone sax and the Lil Rascals Brass Band Horns - Dewan Scott on trumpet, Jeffery Hills on tuba, Glen David Andrews on trombone, Corey Henry on trombone, Mervin Campbell on trumpet and Vincent Broussard on saxophone. This is the only one where drums are the centerpiece (outside of a solo or the drums-only "Pull Up..."), their presence is strong and demonstrative, the playing taut.

Rockier pieces come in the form of Chad Wackerman's "The Spell" a darker piece, lightened by Daryl Pratt on the vibes, triggering a koto sample (the notes note), and the driving contribution from Simon Phillips, "Manganese." Here's where I'd say fusion comes in, including some fiery guitar leads from Andy Timmons, fat throbbing bass from Jimmy Johnson and the organ and Rhodes-like keyboard riffs from Jeff Babko.

A hard rock/heavy prog feel (a la Rush) can be heard in "Lagerborg," a piece that Josh Freese wrote for a Drum Day performance, but never recorded; he named it after drummer Chris Lagerborg who had passed away just before Freese recorded it. Since no one else is credited - not even Freese himself - I'm assuming he's playing the jammin' guitar leads and hummin' bass. It's a rave up similar to early Rush.

And Led Zeppelin are channeled in the rumbling drums of the screaming fusion piece "Faceless Pastiche" - Morgenstein explains the title in the notes, referring back to a negative review that the Dixie Dregs received at a time when he was in the band. Joining Morgenstein is keyboardist Jordan Rudess, with whom he worked in the Rudess Morgenstein Project a few years back.

All in all, it's an amazing collection of music that covers a broad territory of drumming styles and textures... and yet can be equally entertaining for any music lover. An bonus especially for those "drum heads" is that performer includes a brief note about the creation of their contribution, in some cases detailing their kit set-up.

Just as this CD was in its final stages of production, Modern Drummer founder and publisher rob Spagnardi passed away.

A Glimpse Into A Deeply Disturbed Mind (Terry Bozzio) (8:47) / Beezlebub (Bill Bruford's Earthworks) (3:27) / Mad Tea Time Part 1 (Steve Smith And Zakir Hussain) (3:48) / Mad Tea Time Part 2 (Smith And Hussain) (7:31) / The Spell (Chad Wackerman) (5:01) / Spring Monkey (Stanton Moore) (4:44) / Manganese (Simon Phillips) (5:24) / Lagerborg (Josh Freese) (4:09) / Faceless Pastiche (Rod Morgenstein) (4:27) / Shut Up And Play Yer Drums (Tim Alexander And Brain) (7:45) / Wandering Portland Maine (Marco Minnemann) (6:01) /Pull Up My Sleeve (Stephen Perkins And Brooks Wackerman) (5:16)

Terry Bozzio - drums, keyboards, voice, reason, and Ableton 'Live' Sequencing software (1)
Bill Bruford - drums (2)
Tim Garland - bass clarinet, soprano sax (2)
Steve Hamilton - piano (2)
Mark Hodgson - acoustic bass (2)
Steve Smith - drums (3, 4)
Zakir Hussain - tabla (3, 4)
George Brooks - tenor sax and tamboura(3, 4)
Fareed Haque - sitar guitar(3, 4)
Kai Eckhardt - bass(3, 4)
Chad Wackerman - drums (5)
Daryl Pratt - vibes (5)
James Muller - guitar (5)
Leon Gaer - bass (5)
Stanton Moore - drums (6)
Robert Mercurio - bass (6)
Jeff Raines - guitar (6)
Rich Vogel - Hammond B-3 (6)
Ben Ellman - baritone sax (6)

Lil Rascals Brass Band Horns:

Dewan Scott - trumpet (6)
Jeffery Hills - tuba (6)
Glen David Andrews - trombone (6)
Corey Henry - (6)
Mervin Campbell - (6)
Vincent Broussard - saxophone (6)
Simon Phillips - drums (7)
Jeff Babko - keyboards (7)
Jimmy Johnson - bass (7)
Andy Timmons - guitars (7)
Josh Freese - drums (8)
Rod Morgenstein - drums and percussion (9)
Jordan Rudess - keyboards (9)
Tim Alexander - drums and percussion (10)
Brain - drums and percussion (10)
Marco Minnemann - drums and percussion, guitar (11)
Stephen Perkins - drums (12)
Brooks Wackerman - drums (12)

Drum Nation Volume One (2004)
Drum Nation Volume Two (2005)

Genre: Various Genres

Origin VA

Added: December 28th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 808
Language: english


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