William Hooker

Big Moon

William Hooker doesn’t seem to have a problem with idea generation — he brings plenty of creativity to his writing for free improvisation. But just how does he get all of these ideas to coalesce in real time? On Big Moon, the drummer again reveals an uncommon talent for spontaneous compositional design.

A quick scan of the album’s 11 titles, with their allusions to esoteric philosophy, establishes the conceptual gambit for this record: the avant-garde as cosmological expression. Musically, this notion requires greater lyricism and more breathing room than Hooker used on 2020’s Symphonie Of Flowers, with its pounding beats and squealing horns. But consonance rather than conflict seeds this new effort. So you’ll hear a resonant piano in contemplation on the head of “Stations Of Power,” the opening tune, before an ethereal, sustained synth line extends the harmony, then, a steady Latin groove in the bass that animates the soloists and triggers the final acceleration on “Right Speech.”

If the group’s acoustic instrumentation is primarily responsible for the album’s grounded sound, the contrasting electronic elements give the tunes their lift. Note how the bubbly synth flirts with the hand drumming and somber saxophone on “Major Planetary Centers,” how the electronic scratches, bleeps and growls lend “Sequence Of The Form” an air of abstraction. Or, finally, how a symphonic swell of oscillating sound accentuates the majesty of the solfege-adorned track, “All I Can Say… Human Family,” Hooker’s parting word on the power of harmonious relationships.

On Sale Now
January 2023
Fred Hersch & esperanza spalding
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