New York Times on Karriem Riggins' Alone Together

New York Times on Karriem Riggins' Alone Together

  • October 05, 2012

By Tia Fuller in Arts Beat, The New York Times, October 5, 2012

Karriem Riggins: For about 15 years Karriem Riggins has been one of the better drummers in jazz, with Betty Carter and Ray Brown and Mulgrew Miller and Diana Krall. He’s also been a hip-hop producer, working with Slum Village, the Roots and Erykah Badu. His first solo album, Alone Together (Stones Throw), is a collection of intuitive sketches made in his Detroit home studio, an unvarnished take on the sounds in his head. It’s ’70s-obsessed crate digger’s music, with tiny unnamed looping samples — he credits his digital gear, but not the song sources — from all kinds of soul and pop and Brazilian records, and other recorded sound. Beneath all that lie Mr. Riggins’s own synthesizer melodies and his programmed or live drum-set beats, slow and deep with delayed groove. (He worked a fair amount with the producer J Dilla, whose idea of groove has slowly and deeply gotten into jazz.) There’s a loose frame on everything: songs dissolve into background noise or conversations. And it’s weird, intense music: on “daOOOOOH!!” you hear a Brazilian agogo bell playing against a thin, choppy-pattern midtempo funk, over one elongated oohing note from a vocal-quartet record that lasts nearly a minute and half.