Genres: Jazz / Experimental / Avant Garde
Wizards is a collective entity devoted to sound exploration across the vast universe we know to be the musical continuum. While the common denominator for us is a passion for experimenting and a disinterest in orthodoxy, the three of us bring distinctly different musical (and social) backgrounds to the mix. These contrasts give the ensemble the backdrop to have some very interesting musical conversations, with each member bringing his influences and musical imagination to bear on a musical climate born of mutual respect and the thirst for playing something that’s fresh….
Members of Wizards:
Expanded Bio of Wizards via: http://wizards.fourfour.com/
It’s early in the 21st, and Wizards brings a fresh take on the “power trio”. In the form of Hasan Abdur-Razzaq (saxophones), Adam Smith (drums), and Gerard Cox (keys), three elements have combined that offer an alchemy of backgrounds and style, but a singular direction of intent.
While rooted in the cosmic music and free jazz of the late 60s and early 70s, the group is only a throwback at first glance. Wizard-ry to these men connotes simply– that all historical, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual resources should be at play in the service of musical communication. In their approach to music, they honor the idea that the freedom inherent to improvisation can take both musician and listener across landscapes that would be difficult to realize with a pre-conceived sequence of musical events. Some of the most interesting musical connections are made in spontaneous revelation.
What Wizards is at heart then is not so much traditional free jazz but a form of “improvised fusion”. The challenge for these musicians is to draw from a large well of music history and styles and to make fresh and compelling connections between these elements. Is it probable or likely to go from a samba groove into a metal vamp, with a foray into organ jazz, all the while retaining a sense of Free Jazz urgency and improvisation? Wizards believes it’s entirely possible, and is compelled to pursue this direction not as a point of novelty or as an arbitrary challenge. Rather, navigating different stylistic elements allows Wizards a greater canvas to work from to communicate more engaging musical messages. It’s not a “potluck” proposition either; it’s about making intriguing, uncommon stews from the base of their musical cauldron.
Wizards is centered around the soaring, immediate voice of reeds player Hasan Abdur-Razzaq. Razzaq (b.Montgomery, AL) is from the generation that came up during the heyday of Free Jazz. He first began playing in earnest on the Cleveland free jazz scene of the early 70s, that same scene that gave life to the Ayler brothers, Pyramids, and Abdul-Wadud. His voice on saxophone has been compared by several writers to Ayler himself, though he is inspired by the whole lexicon of jazz saxophonists and by other influences and experiences. Having grown up in the Baptist church, Razzaq makes no bones about “preaching” on the horn. His pilgrimage to Mecca broadened his understanding of music and humanity in a global sense, and one hears plaintive echoes of the Arabian diaspora in his soloing. Hasan is also an accomplished hand percussionist and doubles in Wizards on both percussion and electric cello.