Alto sax player Devin Brahja Waldman lives in New York and leads his own group Brahja and is a member of Heroes Are Gang Leaders and Land of Kush. He also helps run the label Fast Speaking Music with his aunt, celebrated poet Anne Waldman. Master drummer Hamid Drake needs no introduction.
Waldman and Drake’s duo was recorded live at Elastic Arts in Chicago in December 2019. The title of the album, «Mediumistic Methodology», relates to a seance experience of Waldman and its tapping methodology that evoked the spirit of his grandmother who passed away before he was born. Waldman says that the table of the seance is «a common denominator between various forms of mediumistic and oracle methodologies – such as ouija board, table-turning, tarot, etc. The table serves as the meeting grounds between us and the spirits; where we sit down and commune with them».
«Mediumistic Methodology» is released as a limited edition of 200 cassettes plus a download option. It has a clear spiritual atmosphere, but it does not attempt to evoke the spirits of seminal sax and drums duets but the personal voices of Waldman and Drake. Waldman even takes Drake into much more subtle and abstract territories, especially in the meditative and quiet opening piece, the 18-minute «Knock Knock» and the following, the soulful «Esprit Es-Tu Lá», both build its tension slowly and methodically.
The second side of the cassette focuses on a much more powerful and rhythmic dialog between Waldman and Drake, especially on the percolating 17-minute «Table-turner» where both are pushing and pulling each other but also giving plenty of space for individual improvisation, as Waldman sketching melodic fragments while Drake offers explosive, funky patterns. The last piece «Ponder» returns full circle to the meditative opening but with more playful dynamics now and cements the stimulating spiritual interplay and affinity between Waldman and Drake.
Devin Brahja Waldman (as), Hamid Drake (dr)