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Glen Velez is perhaps not a household name, but let Emotional Rescue change that with this wonderfully curated collection of works from a masterful drum devotee. Velez has Latin American roots, and he has performed since the late '60s in New York, but his interest in percussion spans the globe and all kinds of hand drums. His respected techniques have been snapped up by collaborators like John Cage and Steve Reich, not least thanks to the advanced polyrhythmic modes he operates in. Don't be fooled though - this isn't just a drum record. Accompanying musicians shape out the hypnotic percussion in a variety of transcendental moods that make this an invigorating listen start to finish.
A double LP collated from his first 3 solo albums (from 1985 to 1989), Sweet Season is a snapshot in to the pioneering composing and performance of this underrated artist. Born in 1949, of Mexican American ancestry, Velez grew up in Texas before moving to New York in 1967. Playing jazz on the drums he soon gravitated to hand drums from around the world (frame drums in particular), seeking out teachers from many different musical traditions. Among the many instruments Velez favours are the Irish bodhrán, the Brazilian pandeiro, the Arabic riq, the North African bendir and the Azerbaijani ghaval. Although these instruments are similar in construction they have their own playing techniques that open new possibilities.
Sweet Season highlights this vocabulary, mixing and adapting techniques from various cultures to develop new ones. The music, often composed as cross-cultural ensembles, has a particular fondness for polyrhythms – superimposing different meters simultaneously – while incorporating Stepping Split-tone and Central Asian Overtone singing, plus bells, flute, piano, tambourine and more to complete the global horizons.