Bio

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.

Adam Smith (drums) is no stranger to musical exploration and experimentation, having pursued directions in electro-acoustic, improvised, and electronic music from an early age. Having a rich background in playing all kinds of American music (on multiple instruments) allows Smith to keep a very clear perspective on how and why communication with the audience is taking place. Improvised music, Smith believes, can be every bit as communicative and moving as the most primal rock or funk, if the listener is always acknowledged in the process. It should come as no sur prise that his drumming style is similarly eclectic; one can hear shades of everyone from Sunny Murray to Tony Williams...to Dave Weckl. On the kit he seeks above all-  to create a dynamic phrasing concept in the context of improvised music. Adam doubles in Wizards on synths and electronics.

The other foundation of the Wizards rhythm section can be found in Gerard Cox. Because of his strong left hand, Cox is not only Wizards' keyboardist but also its bass player. Playing double keyboards is not something often associated with jazz, but his training in playing jazz organ has served him well in this context. While raised on a steady diet of jazz, Cox has increasingly embraced more and more musical elements into his playing. On Rhodes, one is likely to hear plenty of earthy funk and blues in the equation, and this factors heavily into the electric Wizards sound. When playing acoustic piano, his sound can vary from an angular and percussive approach to a more chromatic and impressionistic vein. Gerard is forthright in acknowledging the influence of the unique sound worlds of McCoy Tyner, Cecil Taylor, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea.

- Hasan Abdur-Razzaq has also performed and/or recorded with Michael Carey, Skeeter Shelton, Thollem McDonas, Tatsuya Nakatani, Aaron Putnam, Jim Ryan, Ryan Jewell, and Tom Abbs. He is also a member of the Razzaq-Jewell Duo and jazz-poetry group Truth Serum. For more information about his other projects, see Hasan's personal page.

- Adam Smith has also performed and/or recorded with Elliot Levin, Christian Howes, Simone Weissenfels, Dan Godston, Gutner Heinz, Manfred Hering, Werner Neumann, Ingeborg Freytag, Bert Stephan, and Satya Gummuluri. He is a founding member of the critically-acclaimed metal group Deadsea, and the film jazz ensemble Descendre. For more information about his other projects, see Adam's personal page.

- Gerard Cox has also performed and/or recorded with Andy Meyer, Aaron Putnam, Tatsuya Nakatani, Tom Abbs, Dan Godston, Thollem McDonas, Heath Watts, and Satya Gummuluri. He is also in the Andy Meyer-Gerard Cox duo. For more information about his other projects, see Gerard's personal page.