Terry Bozzio's new Favored Nations CD, Chamber Works, recorded with Holland's classical Metropole Orkest, might seem unexpected to those only familiar with the drummer's greatest "hits." That's because Bozzio - one of the foremost rock and jazz/fusion drumming virtuosos over the past 30 years - has developed such a reputation by being a scene-stealing legend with guitar gods Frank Zappa and Jeff Beck, plus supergroups the Brecker Brothers, UK and chart topping Missing Persons.
On Chamber Works, Bozzio plays through five lengthy movements and a closing opus with every bit as much speed, flair and ambidexterity as he did with any of his preceding ensembles. The opening "Temenos" features his drum and cymbal accents in unison with serpentining lines by the strings and wind instruments.
Bozzio's unaccompanied intro to the 10-minute "Hypnotic" features flurries on his tom-toms - tuned to give him 2 1/3 octaves of a diatonic scale - and stacks of bell and china cymbals that the drummer actually plays melodies on.
"Untitled" more than lives up to its name. Another of Bozzio's classical-meets-tribal intros leads to Oriental-influenced interplay between the strings, horns, and flute. The drummer again blurs the divide between drum kit and percussion as he solos midway over an extended orchestral vamp, dizzyingly using meticulously-tuned drums and cymbals as only he can.
Those cymbals get another hummingbird-like workout on "Moguli." The tempo is a slow 7/8 time, with varying accents by the Metropole's percussion section that leave small holes for Bozzio to work his magic within. The strings and horns build through an epic eight minutes, conjuring up Middle Eastern imagery.
On "IBO," Bozzio duets with himself during an extended intro, often answering his tom-tom flights with mind-boggling foot patterns on his bass drums. He then creates a tribal feel that echoes legends from Gene Krupa to Elvin Jones, as the Metropole expertly accompanies melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically. The unpredictable result is akin to a John Williams movie theme re-arranged by Zappa.
Bozzio's "Opus One: Self Portrait With Scar" makes a profound closing statement. Echoes of Igor Stravinsky, Zappa's Orchestral Favorites album, and even John Cage enter the fray as the Metropole expertly blends classical traditions within Bozzio's forward-thinking transitions. Orchestral bells, dramatic horns, and Bozzio's unorthodox drum set bring the 13-minute marathon, and Chamber Works, to a close.
Chamber Works is hardly the ever-searching Bozzio's first go-round with an unusual drum set - or the first unusual musical situation, for that matter. His kit with UK circa 1979 was almost exclusively made up of Remo roto-toms, drums that could be tuned by tightening or loosening the surrounding floating rims. In the early-to-mid 1980s with Missing Persons, Bozzio designed an electronic kit that resembled a black desk, with what looked like coat-hangers for cymbals.
Reviews"There's no question about it - Chamber Works is a phenomenal recording that showcases one of today's most gifted drummers. It's simply a must-have record for every music fan." - Rockreviews.org