Detroit saxophonist Skeeter Shelton and Chicago percus- sionist Hamid Drake didn’t know each other before Skeeter was subbed into a duo gig at Trinosophes (Detroit) after Hamid’s partner fell ill. Shortly before the performance, it was discovered that Skeeter’s father, Ajaramu Shelton, was Hamid’s drum teacher and mentor at Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. There was an instant bond.
The set that night was fire. This should be no surprise, as Skeeter, through his father, grew up around AACM-affiliated musicians like Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, Fred Anderson and especially, Amina Claudine Meyers. Soon after, it was decided that Skeeter and Hamid should record together. With Hamid’s international touring schedule, there was only a narrow window of opportunity. A date was picked for Hamid to come to Detroit for a day of recording and a one-night stay.
It turned out to be the morning aftermath of the polar vortex in early 2019. Hamid’s just over four-hour drive from Chicago ballooned into more than nine hours. When he finally arrived, he was asked if he needed to decompress or eat something. He was sick of sitting in a car, he said, and just needed to play.That was it. Hamid was already on the house kit—no mic placement, no line check—and he and Skeeter didn’t stop for 90 minutes. Then they paused and did another half- an-hour. It was an outpouring of free improvisation and Skeeter’s own material—all of which was new to Hamid—that found the musicians discovering mutual sympathies and shared pathways in the music. For this release, we have highlighted mostly portions where Skeeter’s themes predominate, because so many of them are excellent and largely unknown.