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World Music CD Reviews World Fusion

Assif Tsahar, Cooper-Moore, Hamid Drake

By Bruce Miller
Published January 5, 2007

Lost Brother

It might seem strange for GLOBAL RHYTHM to include a review of what could be just another snapshot from the NYC/Chicago experimental improv scene. There’s hidden history here, though: master drummer Hamid Drake spent the late ’70s in the percussion-centric Mandingo Griot Society, a band that once included Foday Musa Suso. Saxophonist and Hopscotch label-owner Tsahar first discovered music in his native Israel. Virginia-born Cooper-Moore, aside from playing everything from solo piano to country and western, is also an inventor of percussion and stringed instruments that suggest the southern plantation as much as Africa. On Lost Brother, Drake’s hand drums and Cooper-Moore’s Ashimba lock into grooves as hypnotic and complex as Uganda’s Soga tribe’s rattle and likembe rhythms, while Tsahar weaves spells and conjures visions. Elsewhere, Cooper-Moore essays slow thumps on his diddley-bow that Drake accentuates on the traps, giving Tsahar’s tenor room to explore sounds more akin to Coltrane than Jujuka. Hopscotch has released several Cooper-Moore and Tsahar duos that do more than suggest avant-jazz’s need for a bit of a musical history lesson. This disc, with extra assistance from Drake, moves the listener well past U.S. city streets and out into the stifling funk of southern Georgia or the bush of Ghana’s Volta region.