In 2011, the band will release its sophomore CD, Cicada. Like that mysterious insect, who as a nymph lives in the earth surrounded by roots and then comes forth to sing, the music created by these eight accomplished and inventive musicians is earthy and at one with its origins, but suggestive of mysterious worlds beyond.
A pointer to Hazmat’s methodology can be found in the band’s configuration. Schuman’s guitar, diatonic harmonica and intensely earthy vocals set the tone. A solid battery of sounds—tuba, chromatic harmonica, trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, tenor and baritone saxes, piccolo and duduk, mandocello and steel guitar—explores the textural and melodic outer limits of Hazmat’s meticulously woven compositions, while guitars and drums lock down a groove and provide sonic spicing.
That these musicians empathize with and enhance Schuman’s vision is a testament to their gifts. Each member of Hazmat Modine is a virtuoso musician, but that virtuosity is never abused. All is performed in service to the song.
That becomes clear on Cicada, an ambitious and stunning statement that serves as the culmination of the growth and depth of the band. Among the album’s 14 tracks are two collaborative efforts with another innovative octet, the electrifying Gangbe Brass Band from Benin, as well as artistic alliances with the genre-bending Kronos Quartet and the popular American vocalist Natalie Merchant.
“We are living in one of the golden ages of world music,” says Schuman. “Music is coming from all over, and this is reflected when you play festivals—you have musicians from everywhere: Africa, Asia, the Americas. The cross-fertilization is natural. It's how musicians see and hear the world. We are in a period in which so many kinds of music have already been influenced by other kinds. Gangbe, for example, has absorbed so much of the Americas in its .......