Gerry Hemingway
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White drummer Gerry Hemingway (1955) joined the "creative" crowd via Anthony Davis (1973-2001) and Anthony Braxton (1983-94). But his technique was also well served by the humbler all-white BassDrumBone trio with bassist Mark Helias and trombonist Ray Anderson (1978-97). Hemingway summarized his early experiments on Kwambe (february 1978): the four-movement suite Kwambe, with Anthony Davis on piano, Wes Brown on flute, Jay Hoggard on vibraphone and Mark Helias on bass (roughly Anthony Davis' group of the time), the three-movement suite First Landscape for a trio with with George Lewis on trombone and Anthony Davis on piano, the solo-drums piece Walking Alone the Tall Trees Sang. They exuded a subtle intelligence, more influenced by the electroacoustic avantgarde than by Anthony Davis, with an approach that was more on the side of (richly textured) abstraction rather than narrative development. The four compositions of Solo Works (september 1981), ostensibly a showcase for Hemingway's extended vocabulary of the drums, was even more abstract and non-jazz, including Black Wind for "cymbal and drum resonances" and The Dawntreader, musique concrete for tape. More of his solo-percussion compositions were also collected on Tubworks: the 18-minute Four Studies for Single Instruments (1985), the polymetrical Trance Tracks (using rhythmic phrases of different lengths as the building blocks for the composition), Like So Many Sails (1985) for wood blocks and junk metal, and Dance of the Sphygmoids (december 1983).

Jazz music resurfaced in the quintet sessions of Outerbridge Crossing (september 1985), with Anderson, Helias, baritone saxophonist David Mott, Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger. notably Outerbridge Crossing (that premiered his "tiered-tempo approach"), Endorphin and Threnody For Charles Mingu, and Special Detail (december 1990), with Don Byron on baritone sax and clarinet, bassist Ed Schuller on bass, Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos and Reijseger still on cello, notably the 19-minute Special Detail and the 14-minute Taffia. No matter how torrid and searing, it was still a form of jazz music that, while technically "swinging", was mostly absorbed in a manipulative analysis of form. Down To The Wire (december 1990), for the quartet of saxophonist and clarinetist Michael Moore, Wierbos and bassist Mark Dresser, was different in that Hemingway focused on microscopic texture (Space 2 but also the atmospheric If you Like) rather than macroscopic interplay. The quintet's art was one of brains and guts, the quartet's art was one of colors and whispers.

Besides BassDrumBone, Hemingway was also active with a trio that became a quartet for Tambastics (march 1991): flutist Robert Dick, bassist Mark Dresser and pianist Denman Maroney.

Since 1990 Hemingway was also involved in a trio with pianist Georg Graewe and cellist Ernst Reijseger that recorded: Sonic Fiction (march 1989), the live The View From Points West (june 1991), Flex 27 (december 1993), Saturn Cycle (november 1994), Counterfactuals (november 1999).

Hemingway was also still active as an avantgarde composer, for example with his concerto for percussionist and orchestra, Terrains (1993). He continued to experiment with live electronic music, computer interactive music, and multimedia installations (Waterways for multiple slide projectors, tape and percussion).

Back to the jazz world, Demon Chaser (may 1993) finally presented the "transatlantic quintet" in all its glory: Hemingway, Reijseger, Dresser, Wierbos and Moore. Slamadam and Demon Chaser were the highlights. After the live Slamadam (february 1994), the quintet penned its masterpiece, the five-movement suite Marmalade King (february 1994), conceived as a fairy tale. Perfect World (march 1995) contained another "fairy tale" suite, Little Suite, the lengthy and complex narrative architecture of Perfect World, and N.T. The quintet disbanded after the live Waltzes Two-Steps and Other Matters of the Heart (november 1996), that contained more accessible extended pieces (Toombow, Gospel Waltz, Gitar).

Hemingway also played in the trio led by clarinetist, bass clarinetist and alto saxophonist Frank Gratkowski that debuted with Gestalten (september 1995) and later released Flume Factor (february 1997) and Loft Project (june 2003). He also played in a trio with pianist Marilyn Crispell and bassist Barry Guy documented by Cascades (june 1993), with Violet Sparks in Soft Air. A trio with Michel Wintsch and cellist cellist Martin Shuetz recorded Wintsch/ Schuetz/ Hemingway (january 1994).

Electro-Acoustic Solo Works (1984-95) collected assorted compositions of musique concrete and interactive computer music (Chatterlings of april 1995 for sampler and drums, and an excerpt from Aivilik Rays of may 1990, originally more than one hour long), while Acoustic Solo Works (1983-94) simply recycled the material of Tubworks and added some rarities. A duo with vocalist Andrea Goodman, Divine Doorways (april 1997), toyed with aleatory music based on tarot cards. A duo with Thomas Lehn an analogue synthesist, Tom & Gerry, yielded Tom & Gerry (june 1997) and Fire Works (march 2000).

In the meantime, Hemingway had already concocted an "American" quartet with Robin Eubanks on trombone, Ellery Eskelin on tenor saxophone and Mark Dresser on bass that debuted with the live Johnny's Corner Song (november 1997). This time there were echoes of blues, swing and bebop as well as African folk music although they still featured passages of elaborate abstract improvisation (the 13-minute Johnny's Corner Song, the eleven-minute On It and a 21-minute version of Toombow). The next release of the American quartet (and the first studio release of either quartet or quintet), Devil's Paradise (february 1999), featured tenorist Ellery Eskelin (who stole the show), Anderson and Dresser in a program of old Hemingway originals, while The Whimbler (march 2004), an all-new program (notably The Current Underneath, The Whimbler, Curlycue) had trumpeter Herb Robertson, Eskelin and Dresser.

Chamber Works (1999) assembled: the 23-minute Contigualis for string quartet, The Visiting Tank for string quartet plus live electronics, Aurora for sextet, Circus for quintet.

Hemingway also formed the trio Thirteen Ways with pianist Fred Hersch and saxophonist Micheal Moore, that debuted on Thirteen Ways (july 1995) and Focus (july 1999). The WHO Trio with Swiss pianist Michel Wintsch and Swiss contrabassist/cellist Baenz Oester released Identity (march 1998), Open Songs (april 2000 - unlike what written on the cover, date obtained from correspondence with Hemingway himself), Sharing the Thirst, containing both studio sessions from april 2000 and a live performance of may 2001, and The Current Underneath (june 2003).

Songs (december 2001) was another groundbreaking work, although in a totally different dimension: songwriting. Performeers included Lisa Sokolov on vocals, Wierbos, Hemingway, Eskelin, Lehn, Robertson, James Emery on guitars, John Butcher on tenor sax, Kermit Driscoll on bass.

Double Blues Crossing (october 2002), hardly related to the European quintet, was an ambitious suite performed by Gratkowski, Wierbos, cellist Amit Sen and bassist Kermitt Driscoll.

A sudden surge in productivity yielded: Inbetween Spaces (august 2008) with drummer Ellery Eskelin; Below The Surface Of (august 2008) with Terrence McManus on electric and nylon stereo guitar; and Pulses (august 2008) with Korean komungo player Jin Hi Kim. Affinities (october 2010) was a collaboration between pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Gerry Hemingway (also on vibraphone).

BassDrumBone was a trio formed by bassist Mark Helias, drummer Gerry Hemingway and trombonist Ray Anderson that released the live Hence The Reason (march 1996), the live March Of Dimes (september 1997), Cooked To Perfection (1999), collecting pieces recorded in 1986, 1987 and 1996, The Line Up (2006), The Other Parade (august 2009), and the double-disc The Long Road (august 2013), featuring guests Jason Moran (piano) and Joe Lovano (tenor sax).

A quintet with Oscar Noriega (alto sax and clarinet), Ellery Eskelin (sax), guitarist Terrence McManus and bassist Kermit Driscoll recorded Riptide (december 2009).

There's Nothing Better To Do was a collaboration with Albert Beger (tenor and soprano saxes).

Kernelings (Auricle, 2014) collects unreleased solos from 1995-2012.

Fourth Landscape (january 2013) documents the trio of trombonist Samuel Blaser, pianist BenoŚt Delbecq and drummer Gerry Hemingway.

The WHO Trio released Less Is More (february 2008) and the double-disc The WHO Zoo (december 2013), recorded over two years and consisting of one acoustic disc and one disc of lengthy improvisations.

Tables Of Changes (may 2013) documents a collaboration between pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Gerry Hemingway, notably the 14-minute Windy City.

Creative Music Studio's triple-disc Archive Selections Volume 1 & 2 (Planet Arts) documents sessions by Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Kalaparusha, Frederic Rzewski, Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Don Cherry, Collin Walcott, Nana Vasconcelos, Gerry Hemingway, etc.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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