Roy Campbell, William Hooker, and Jason Hwang in a collaborative effort that braids three of this music's most distinctive sounds into a single stream of heightened awareness and emapthy. This recording documents one of the amazing Transparent Productions presented at Sangha -- a fair trade outpost that has developed into a communal ceremonial grounds in the bosom of (the Peoples Republic of) Takoma Park, just outside of Washington, D.C. in the immediate aftermath of the reinstallation of the Bush regime.
"All three members of The Gift have been making powerful music in New York for at least the past 25 years. But surprisingly, this is the first time these three players met up as a trio. All three have their unique stylistic traits. Hooker is a one-man perpetual motion machine, a drummer with unflagging energy who can drive any group, seemingly for hours on end. Hwang has always been an interesting colorist/texturalist and the addition of electronics to his arsenal has amplified this tendency in his playing. Supremely adaptable trumpeter Roy Campbell is the perfect foil for Hwang. In addition to playing a burning trumpet, he, too, is a texturalist of the highest order. When he uses a mute, he’s able to wrench the most astonishing sounds out of his instrument. Together, these three share an in-synch vision throughout this one hour improvisation.
The performance follows a fairly standard schematic with solos, duets, and full trio interaction coming to the fore at various intervals. While the piece stands together as a whole, there are some moments worth mentioning: a duo interlude where Campbell picks up the flute and Hooker accompanies him with effective rolling drum patterns. (While the flute is clearly not Campbell’s primary instrument, his handling of it is surprisingly deft.) At one point, Campbell with mute and Hwang- playing through a wah-wah attachment- get into a wild duel where it’s difficult to tell who’s making what sound. Another section finds Hwang and Hooker engaging in a dialog of percussive pizzicato and complementary tom tom patterns played with mallets while Campbell etches muted arabesques above."
"The three find endless ways to coalesce and diverge in organically satisfying ways, as when Hooker's high-hat shimmer melds with Hwang's keening violin, and Campbell joins in, quivering and quaking. They all have creditable solo passages, but most of the time they're like a bee cut cleanly into three parts, the head, thorax and abdomen getting two legs apiece, each segment dancing and panicing separately yet in organic synch..."
-- Larry Cosentino, Signal to Noise
"The Gift is trumpeter Roy Campbell, violinist Jason Hwang and drummer William Hooker. Together, they produce music of exceptional plangency and emotional energy. Campbell inevitably occupies much of the frontscape, with the fiddle yawning and wailing behind like a bass player with a bank of pedals, but Hwang has a formidable musical mind and his more detailed passages demand close listening. The real wonder of the set is Hooker, who manages to give long performances a consistent pulse and energy without ever setting a clearly discernible metre. His solo episodes are often crafted of the scantest of musical material, but never sound minimalist or sketchy. A first rate album."
-- Brian Morton, The Wire