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.