Kip Hanrahan
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Coup De Tete (American Clave, 1981), 7/10
Desire Develops An Edge (American Clave 1008, 1983), 6.5/10
Conjure: Music For The Texts Of IShmael Reed (American Clave 1006, 1984), 5/10
Vertical Currency (American Clave 1010, 1985), 7/10
A Few Short Notes From The End Run (American Clave 1011, 1986), 6/10
Days And Nights Of Blue Lucy Inverted (American Clave, 1987), 6/10
Conjure: Cab Calloway Stands In For The Moon (American Clave, 1988), 5/10
Tenderness (American Clave, 1990), 6/10
Creative Anarchy (American Clave, 1991) compilation
Exotica (American Clave, 1992), 6/10
All Roads Are Made of the Flesh (American Clave, 1995), 5/10
A Thousand Nights and a Night - Shadow Night (American, 1997), 6.5/10
Shadow Nights Vol 2 (American, 1998), 5.5/10
Beautiful Scars (2007), 6/10
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New York-based percussionist Kip Hanrahan (1954) came to prominence with a project of "neighborhood music" which looked like the urban, American equivalent of Lol Coxhill's "welfare state" project. Coup De Tete (january 1980), featuring several Latin percussionists, rock percussionist Anton Fier, atonal guitarist Arto Lindsay, flutist Byard Lancaster and an army of guests, Desire Develops An Edge (june 1983), for vocalist Jack Bruce and an orchestra of rotating musicians, influenced by Carla Bley's Jazz Composers Orchestra, Conjure (october 1983), with blues vocalist Taj Mahal fronting Murray, Scherer, Lindsay and the usual arsenal of Latin percussions, and Vertical Currency (february 1984), for a smaller orchestra with rock vocalist Jack Bruce, Lindsay, tenor saxophonist David Murray, electronic keyboardist Peter Scherer, bassist Steve Swallow, four percussionists (including himself) and assorted guests, offered exotic progressive jazz-rock performed by all-star casts and drenched in a jungle of congas, bongos and the likes.
Hanrahan's exquisitely Latin-tinged "weltanschauung" permeated the percussion-heavy funk-jazz world-music of Days And Nights Of Blue Lucy Inverted (march 1987), with Allen Toussaint arranging the horns, of the colossal and eclectic Tenderness (march 1990), with a huge cast of musicians (including rock vocalist Gordon "Sting" Sumner, pianist Don Pullen, tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman and drummer Andrew Cyrille) of Exotica (may 1992), with Jack Bruce again fronting the big band, and A Thousand Nights and a Night - Shadow Night (march 1996), the first installment in a nine-part composition.
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Il percussionista Kip Hanrahan e' uno degli agenti catalizzatori piu' efficaci della tumultuosa intellighenzia newyorkese. E' stato influente e geniale nell'eliminare del tutto le separazioni fra jazz e rock, musica etnica e musica occidentale. Ha inventato una sua personale forma-canzone, un "lento" mellifluo per piccola orchestra a ritmi esotici e con testi filosofici. E' per la musica d'avanguardia l'analogo dell'auteur cinematografico, e' un poeta in cerca del suo mezzo d'espressione.

Relying on Cuban rhythms and Brazilian melodies, Coup De Tete (American Clave, 1981) basically launched a "Latin progressive" fad that spanned rock and jazz territories. Drowned in the jungle of congas, bongos and trap drums (Anton Fier), the Latin-funk shuffle of Whatever I Want radiated soul themes via the saxophone fanfares of Chico Freeman, Byard Lancaster and George Cartwright, while Arto Lindsay's guitar and Bill Laswell's bass penned a few disorienting lines. The communion between jazz, rock and Latin musicians could not have been more explicit. The thicker texture created by the saxes and especially the undulations of Jamaaladeen Tacuma's bass lend At The Moment Of The Serve a jazzier feeling (still upset by Lindsay's metallic scratches). Lisa Herman intones a delicate theme in This Night Comes Out Of Both Of Us and the saxophones are replaced by more tender flutes, but the percussions double in rhythm and loudness, thus creating a stronger contrast.
Contrast soon becomes the real core of the experiment in revisiting the tradition of Cuban bands. Lindsay's atonal guitar and Tacuma's noir bass work wonders in A Lover Divides Time and No One Gets To Transcend Anything. Michael Mantler's trumpet intones the most romantic theme of the collection in Sketch from Two Cubas, while the percussions abandon the jovial polyrhythm for a more ominous industrial cadence. A trio of mad guitars (Lindsay, Fret Firth, Bill Frisell) details Shadow To Shadow, perhaps the most surreal moment of the album.
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Con Coup De Tete (recorded 1980), inondato di ritmi cubani "bata" e onorato dalla presenza di diversi nomi prestigiosi dell'intellighenzia newyorkese (da Carla Bley a Arto Lindsay, da Teo Macero a Fret Firth), Kip Hanrahan diede il via alla moda "latina progressiva" che covava da anni negli ambienti rock e jazz.

Con l'album doppio, e piu' maturo, Desire Develops An Edge Hanrahan si immerse invece nei ritmi hawaiani, contando sul canto di Jack Bruce e su una ventina di musicisti: il flusso ininterrotto delle percussioni accompagna mutazioni jazz-rock di calypso (What Is This Dance) e samba (The Life) che secernono ballate disperate intrise di saudade (Nocturnal, Nancy). Hanrahan, amico dello scrittore Ishmael Reed (alle cui liriche dedica le musiche di Conjure, con Taj Mahal al canto) e profondamente influenzato dall'esperienza nella Jazz Composers' Orchestra di Carla Bley, si propone come il Godard dell'avanguardia etnica, fondatore di una etichetta alternativa, "regista" di dischi e animatore della scena locale.

Vertical Currency (february 1984) riprende la collaborazione con Bruce e il resto della pattuglia di Desire: Lindsay, Laswell, Fier, Harris, Frith, Bley, Mantler, Macero, Bang, Murray, Bruce, piu' musicisti cubani, haitiani e sudamericani, e con l'aggiunta del tastierista Peter Scherer e del sassofonista David Murray. L'orchestra conferisce alle melodie latine (Describing It To Yourself), ai calypso da cabaret (What Do You Think), ai cha-cha da big band (Shadow Song), ai jazz-rock (Smiles And Grims), alle danze tropicali (One Casual Song, Intimate Distances) un romantico spleen esistenziale. Meno sperimentale e radicale dei precedenti, il disco approda pero' a un amalgama maturo e accessibile di suoni rock e jazz, occidentali e africani. E, soprattutto, e' un lirico testamento di angoscia e alienazione, piu' vicino alla saudade brasiliana che allo sperimentalismo dei primi due dischi.

Hanrahan's exquisitely Latin-tinged "weltanschauung" permeates Days And Nights Of Blue Lucy Inverted (march 1987 - American Clave, 1987), although the music has lost much of its "neighborhood" low-key grandeur and veered towards soul melody. With the expection of the delirious syncopation of A Poker Game, Luck Inverts Itself, Four Swimmers, the percussions are pushed to the back and melody reigns. The problem is that Hanrahan is not such a gifted singer. The symbiosis between him and the band works when it the voice duets with a flute in Marriage, or in the Art Bears-ish psychodrama Lisbon, Blue Request or in the noir atmosphere Road Song, i.e. when the song is not just a "song", but overall the music often sounds like half-baked easy listening.

On the colossal Tenderness (march 1990 - American Clave, 1990), with a huge cast of musicians, Jack Bruce was replaced by Sting, while Bobby Womack replaced Taj Mahal for Conjure's second album, Cab Calloway Stands In For The Moon (American Clave, 1988).

Exotica (American Clave, 1992), with Jack Bruce again on vocals, was another display of avant world funk-jazz music, while All Roads Are Made of the Flesh (American Clave, 1995) sounds like a minor work of leftovers.

A Thousand Nights and a Night - Shadow Night (march 1996 - American, 1997), the first installment in a nine-part composition, is another all-star cast employed to disassemble the border between jazz, rock, funk and world-music. Shadow Nights Vol 2 (American, 1998) is the second part.

Hanrahan scored the soundtrack for Leon Ichaso's film Pinero (2001).

The next incarnation of Hanrahan's melancholy Latin pop-jazz was Beautiful Scars (march 2007 - American Clave, 2007). A roster of seven vocalists alternate at fronting the songs. The ensemble features bassist Steve Swallow (co-composer of several of the best numbers) and Latin-American percussionist Milton Cordona. The rhumba Busses From Heaven sets the tone for the album with its thick tapestry of percussion and its languid melody. Billy Bang's violin dominates the lengthy pop ballad Real Time and Beautiful Scars, whose calm vocals are undermined by another frenzied deluge of Latin percussion. The most lilting chorus is to be found in Caravaggio/ A Quick Balance, replete with orchestral swoons, insistent saxophone and feathery vibraphone. The most charming atmosphere surfaces from the decadent lullaby Night Cumbia, crafted by the sleepy sensual lament of Leijia Hanrahan and by a lulling organ. Cuban vocalist Xiomara Laugart leads the nocturnal Xiomarra Wears the Heat Beautifully, scoured by trotting percussion, atonal piano, lugubrious vibraphone and romantic saxophone, basically an exercise in incoherent polyphony. Several pieces (Salt in the Mozambique Evening, Rumba of Cities) are avantgarde rhythmic studies disguised as reckless dances.

Operine come Days And Nights Of Blue Lucy Inverted (con una formazione che annovera Murray, Bruce, Anton Fier e Charles Neville) confermeranno nel tempo questa sua weltanschauung latineggiante.
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