Omar Hakim is one of those drummers who's basically in a league with Tony Levin, Lee Ritenour, Bob James, and cats like that. You want flawless quality? You go to Tony, you go to Lee, you go to Bob, and you certainly go to Omar. Just ask Sting, Miles (naw, he ain't dead, he's just in transition), Madonna, Weather Report, David Bowie, and so many others that it'd take me three pages to cite them all when it comes to Hakim's reputation for spot-on musicianship. In fact, also ask Chieli Minucci (Special EFX), Rachel Z (Peter Gabriel, Vertu, Al DiMeola), and Jimi Tunnel (Trilateral Commission) 'cause they all appear here along with talented others.
In fact, if you lament the fact that Vertu never really got off the ground, well Rachel, who was in the short-lived band, and Chieli, who wasn't, serve up a dazzling in-style exposition on Omar and Steve Tibbs' Transmigration (think: Mahavishnu, early Return to Forever, etc.). Some cuts, like Carpe Diem, are like a cross between Group 87, 70s Wave fusion, and Toots Thielemans (compliments Gregoire Manet in that last respect) while others are mellow breezes (With Every Breath), a few cosmic and progressive while jazzy (Remember to Remember), and some burn the joint up (the aforementioned Transmigration, Walk the Walk, etc.) but two things remain constant: Hakim's on-the-dot drumming—as well keyboards, guitar, bass, and singing, the lattermost of which harks back to a super mellow Norman Connors—and Chieli Minucci's deft guitaristics.
We Are One is a potpourri and is often relatable to other fusioneers—Walk the Wall is as though taken from Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop period, for instance, while So There has distinct Lonnie Liston Smith flavors melded with updates a la Chick Corea. The entire menu is smooth as silk even when spiky and burning, and Omar was in on the recording and mixing, so the sound and balance came out according to his well-honed ear and soundfield requirements. Catch the wide spectrum of dynamics in Listen Up!—esp. with its mean-ass all-over-the-kit drumming—and you'll see what I mean. Frankly, I coulda used a bit more raw edge in the mix, but that wasn't what he was going for, and I really have no complaint to register, just that desire for a slightly contrastier setting.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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