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GERALD CLEAVER & DEVIN GRAY

«27 Licks»
RATAPLAN RECORDS, RR 007

American drummer Devin Gray first met fellow-American and master drummer Gerald Cleaver at the then Dave Douglas’ led Banff Canada workshop in 2006. Soon Cleaver became not only a but a friend for young Gray. Gray mentions that he knew he can follow Cleaver’s advice when he asked his students to play music beyond their personal and instrumental limitations. For Gray, it was an approval to explore the drum-set from all its sides, as he already did by crawling under the drum-set and drastically altering his legs, arms, and striking angles.

In 2011 Gray and Cleaver began to play drum duets in the streets of New York, most of the time at Union Square. «27 Licks» distills this living and learning experience. The album was recorded at Douglass Recording in Brooklyn in December 2019 but captures a vibe of just-another-day in the farming of the musical lives of Gray and Cleaver, as both have many more stories to tell.

Gray and Cleaver do have many colorful stories to tell and do so with a playful and compassionate sense of affinity and with driving grooves. Both are attuned to every resonant nuance and percussive detail. enjoy exploring unfamiliar sounds and unchartered dynamics as on «Train Drain» or «One for “Bernie». The most intriguing story is the last, 21-minutes of «Headbangers» with its nuanced, dramatic atmosphere, subtle shifts of the pulse and the mood, and mysterious conclusion.

Eyal Hareuveni 

Devin Gray (dr), Gerald Cleaver (dr)

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