Crescent Moon Waning
Neither a distinguished player nor a composer or arranger in a conventional sense, Kip Hanrahan occupies a one-of-a-kind place in American contemporary music. Beginning in the early ’80s, Hanrahan emerged as a bandleader/producer/conceptualist/music auteur. He became the off-center hub of extraordinary ensembles (don’t take my word for it, look them up) and also the ruthless instigator of unlikely musical blends and collisions — all captured in a remarkable 16-record catalog.
True to Hanrahan’s Bronx roots, his brand of cross-culturalism sounded lived-in; sophisticated, yes, but also rough-and-tumble. Call his music avant-jazz if you must, but in truth, it was an unruly, streetwise mix of jazz, blues, rock, pop, Afro-Cuban and Haitian roots music, New Orleans traditions and a half-dozen other influences, from bossa nova to Morton Feldman.
The results were never tidy, but that was never the intent. Instead, Hanrahan´s recordings seemed designed to present a contrarian view on questions of beauty, songwriting, ensemble playing and groove — and that was just for starters.
Anybody can go after perfection. But, ah, perfect imperfection — that’s a whole different matter.