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William Hooker and Thomas Chapin - Crossing Points (Nobusiness, 2011)

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Multi-instrumentalist Thomas Chapin was one of my guiding lights when I started getting into jazz really heavily in the 1990's. His Knitting Factory releases are all stellar, and he could play anything from swing to bop to free, but was possibly at his best when combining all genres or dispensing with the notion of genre entirely.

This duet album finds him in the company of master drummer William Hooker for a two man blast off into the cosmos. Make no mistake, this is energy music on an Interstellar Space level.

Hooker and Chapin are a match made in free-jazz heaven and frequently encourage each other during this performance with shouts of joy. The opening epic “The Subway" builds to torrid fire music with the saxophone (Chapin sticks to saxophone throughout) right up front and the drums a little distant but no less powerful. Intensely emotional collective improvisation is dominated by scalding saxophone and explosive drumming.

Midway through, the music becomes lighter and more ominous as if dark clouds were gathering on the horizon. Sure enough the downpour comes in the form of molten howls of saxophone and cacophonous drumming. “Addiction to Sound" finds Hooker developing a nice rhythm with comparability gentle saxophone that probe the edges of space and time. Spacious saxophone bleats and honks develop through a building rhythm, developing heat and tension.

The finale, “The Underground Dead" brings it all together with a mind-meld of duo improvisation that must be heard to be believed, sounding like the most intense yet heartfelt music imaginable. They slow things down to a simmer as a recitation or incantation is read and then it is over. Cathartic beauty for the heart and soul at its finest and an absolute must for those who explore the edges of jazz and improvisation. Crossing Points—NoBusiness Records.

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This story appears courtesy of Music and More by Tim Niland.
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