We Sick

deVon Russell Gray
Nathan Hanson
Davu Seru
deVon Russell Gray
Nathan Hanson
Davu Seru
Catalog Number: 
#1 091
Release Date: 
Apr 28, 2023
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Performed and recorded in a church just across the street from the Minnesota State Capitol on December 28th, 2020,  only weeks after Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd, We Sick is a record of staggeringly emotional improvised music, full of contemplation, fear, and fury. deVon Russell Gray's (aka dVRG) piano haunts the corners and cornices and interweaves with Nathan Hanson's lyrical saxophone. Davu Seru's drumming finds its place masterfully everywhere outside of and in between these two other elements, propelling, pulling, and singing. We Sick is a dance and a statement; it will appeal to fans of any work associated with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), of which Seru is an affiliate. Cetainly Roscoe Mitchell's playing comes to mind, as do certain selections from Muhal Richard Abrams' Things to Come from Those Now Gone. But We Sick is not simply an echo of musics of the past. It is in fact made, fundamentally, from the materials of the present moment.

In his 1963 speech, “The House Negro and the Field Negro” Malcolm X assigns blame to those in his time who show concern for a master class whom he believes, on sound reason, does not deserve it. Why not just care for yourself?

We Sick thinks backwards through this reasoning to the Word of all Adam's children, received through the power of Eve’s vulnerable questioning. We think that we are all –– insofar as we serve anything beyond ourselves –– both master and servant. We remember that we embody both power and vulnerability; we remember that we have been contaminated, sullied, corrupted, sinner-saints from the karmic jump. We point to this Malcolm in order to point away, since he would keep transforming before being deemed impure and dispatched back to paradise. We take responsibility for being bad at purity, which is to say we each vow: “I take responsibility for this life.” Like the choice to submit to vaccination, or sound. The music of We Sick is surrender: lyricism as it moves from interior to exterior, moaning within the living space of a sanctuary. The sanctuary recorded here–a church 150 years old and rendered vacant by COVID–became an ensemble member through its acoustics and ambiance.

We recorded together on December 28, 2020 weeks after police murdered George Floyd and several months into the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine. Across the street from our sanctuary, the National Guard surrounded the Minnesota State Capitol. Their heavily armed presence provided a tangible reminder of the old dharma that house is field, white is Black and that–without question–we sick.

The music made that day reflects the feelings of isolation from community, hunger for justice, and the weariness of the wait. We offer it to you as a humble confession and renewed covenant.



“A fiery work of improvisation and passion” [FULL ARTICLE] - Maurice Hogue



"After Minneapolis and St. Paul burned following George Floyd's murder, three of the Twin Cities' most versatile and adventurous free-jazz/avant-garde instrumentalists holed up in a church across the street from the National Guard-lined State Capitol and let the tape and their emotions roll. The end result is a riveting album for the Innova label titled "We Sick," which finds pianist Gray (Heiruspecs), saxophonist Hanson and drummer Seru channeling anger, sorrow and fear over six raw but epic tracks with Malcom X's speech "The House Negro and the Field Negro" as a backdrop." -  Chris Riemenschneider


"...this advance track from the trio’s We Sick, recorded in 2020 and to be released this week, deserves nine minutes of your time. Hanson’s sax begins mournful and gains strength, Gray’s piano clusters expand as the song progresses, and Seru’s rhythms grown from experimentally tentative to prominent and forceful." 


"We Sick stands as a testament to how free improvisation equals the pure, unfiltered self-expression of being in the moment – even if that moment is fraught with tension and confusion." - Michael Toland


"As with the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Matthew Shipp or Muhal Richard Abrams, it’s further proof abstract jazz can deliver a real emotional punch, finding beauty and connection amid the darkest of lows."


"Although for most of its duration We Sick appears like a sobering realisation and solemn acceptance of an endless fight, the album’s dénouement is hopeful, with Hanson’s snaking saxophones lines and Gray’s energetic chords leaving the next page open for a different story." - Antonio Poscic


"Ecstatic free jazz can tip over into ranting expressionism, but there's no risk of that here. We Sick is a clear-eyed, rigorous dissection of a huge historic event, aspiring to and achieving high political art. Its unaffected anger is richly earned and musically compelling."


"Improvised music, by its very nature, is of a time and a place. At a minimum, recordings provide a historical document of what occurred. At their best, recordings can feel like a doorway into these moments. We Sick falls into the latter category."