The end of the year is packed with religious observances: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza. But the winter solstice (which falls on December 21 this year) is the oldest of them all–humanity has celebrated this celestial occurrence since it first learned to read the stars. Drummers Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang planned their first solstice concert 12 years ago as a celebration for friends who didn’t observe other seasonal holidays, but the show has become a popular local tradition. At Link’s Hall every year, the two (and about a hundred spectators) welcome the sunrise with a ritual of sound and rhythm. They begin each concert in near darkness, establishing a ceremonial atmosphere by walking through the candlelit room playing bells and gongs, then move on to an array of percussion instruments from around the world, weaving together grooves from Africa, India, and the Middle East with the jazz cadences that make them first-call drummers for bandleaders like Bill Laswell, Peter Brotzmann, and Fred Anderson. By the time the concert ends, with an extended moment of silence, the morning light is streaming through the windows. Advance tickets are strongly recommended and can be bought through Bookworks, 3444 N. Clark; 773-871-5318. Saturday through Monday, December 21 through 23, 6 AM, Link’s Hall Studio, 3435 N. Sheffield; 773-281-0824.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marc PoKempner.