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Hamid Drake & Ingrid Schmoliner - Awon Ona [Klanggalerie - 2021]

Awon Ona is a two-CD release bringing together two live set collaborations between American jazz drummer/percussionist Hamid Drake, and Austrian pianist/ vocalist Ingrid Schmoliner. It’s a release that moves between tight and taut improv, more pared-back minimalism with feet in both modern classical and jazz forms, strange warbling and wondering vocal touched pieces, through more bounding 'n' building atmospheric fare

The CD release appears on Austria’s Klanggalerie who in recent years have been releasing more work in the improv side of things. The two discs are presented in a six-panel mini gatefold- this features scrawled black, white and red drawings, as well as texts on the back detailing the contents and recordings of the two discs.  

The first disc in the set takes in a live set recorded in March 2020 at Alte Gerberie, which is located in the Austria market town of St. Johann in Tirol. This first set features five tracks, and these have runtimes between five and twenty minutes.  We move from the angular eerier to the tight bounding of “Igbi” which starts with chiming discordant key hits, and snaking detailed percussion. Moving onto cascading to manic rushes of keys and hissing to darting drums, through to stabbing and rapidly darting mixes of piano keys and detailed percussive runs. We have tolling wonky keys wonder, emotional smarting drums, and awkwardly wavering- yet felt female vocals of “Eeru”. Onto the taut smarting ‘n’ cascading percussion and violently angular key flow of “San”.

The second disc features a set recorded at the Cerkno Jazz Festival Slovenia in September 2020. This is made up of six tracks, and these each run between two and twenty-minute mark. We go from yodelling to  manic female vocalising meets skittering drum runs of “Joidi”.  There’s the unease sawing ‘n’ chiming prepared piano elements, skittering to hissing percussion & warbling vocal trails of “Aago”. Or the tight and stark percussive smarts meets bounding and brash key runs of “Gbogbo Ibi”.

On the whole Awon Ona is a wonderfully varied and daring release, which blends and blurs elements of improv, modern classical/ modern composition, and jazz- for a highly distinctive and unpredictable double-disc set. This is my first-time hearing works from either of these players, and it’s certainly made me keen to hear more of their work- both together & in a solo setting.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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