Keith Hall

Made In Kalamazoo
(Zoom Out)

This is a carefully structured project built around a clear and focused vision. Drummer Keith Hall offers solo tribute to three legendary drummers — Billy Hart, Elvin Jones, and Max Roach — at the beginning, middle and end of this 20-track album. Those border seven compositions played by a trio featuring Andrew Rathbun on reeds and Robert Hurst III on bass, and 10 reeds-drums duos in a more avant-garde style. Many of the trio pieces have a churning, heavy-footed groove thanks to Hurst’s booming bass, and Rathbun’s melodies (which are often more like riffs) and solos are reminiscent of JD Allen’s work with his trio featuring Gregg August and Rudy Royston.

On “Boiling Pot,” he overdubs short bass clarinet phrases behind his tenor saxophone; you almost don’t notice them at first, but they become crucial by the end. On “Coming Of Age,” he switches to soprano and the rhythm section creates a kind of meditative rubato backing. As the piece winds down, Hall sweeps it away with washes of cymbals. The duos are significantly more abstract and experimental than the trio pieces; Rathbun pushes his horns through echo and reverb on “Mop It Up,” and makes it sound like a vintage analog synthesizer from Stevie Wonder’s arsenal on “Get Up Get Out,” while Hall lays down driving beats. “Dream Sequence” is even weirder; Hall keeps his cymbals dancing and his snare work martial, as Rathbun journeys through deep space.