Kevin Winter, Getty Images Nominees for the 2013 Teen Choice Awards are trickling…
- Posted on Sep 18th 2007 11:00AM by Steve Hochman
The latest is 'Global Drum Project' (due for Oct. 2 release from Shout! Factory), a set of, at times, almost unclassifiable ambient groove tracks created by Hart and Hussain. The two are joined by Nigerian talking-drummer Sikuru Adepoju and Puerto Rican conguero Giovanni Hidalgo, with guest appearances by percussionist Taufiq Qureshi (Hussain's brother), star player Nilardi Kumar and sarangi player Dilshad Khan, as well as a vocal bit from Nigerian-born percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, recorded shortly before his death four years ago. In some ways it extends the Hart/Hussain-led Diga Rhythm Band cross-cultural experiment of the mid-'70s and the Rhythm Devils sessions that Hart organized with Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira and jazz vocalist Flora Purim and Dead-mates Bill Kreutzmann and Phil Lesh, among others, in essence serving as the sound of the river in 'Apocalypse Now,' though in a more modern context with judicious use of electronics. Even Hart, known for both his enthusiasm and loquaciousness, has a little trouble giving a concise overview of this project.
"We were looking for the Zone," he says -- Zone with a capital "Z." "It's a spiritual thing for us, not just a casual outpouring. It came from a place of our collective knowledge over the years and the relation we have between each other and the trust, I guess. This wasn't taken from any one place but probably deep in our subconscious, which is the best place to find the muse. Zakir represents the strongest of Indian classical music, and he's morphed -- he can do all that and be able to relax with me and go places he doesn't go in his normal concretizing. Giovanni has a great relationship and can drop the classic sides he's the master of and mutate, flow into a river of rhythm, create a new rhythm snake. And then there's Sikuru, who's a pleasure to be around, and as a four-piece it's like a string quartet."
Yes, but what does it sound like?
"This music is joy."
No argument with that. But still, maybe the best approach is to explore some of the touchstones of music on which Hart drew inspiration for this project. And with that we offer the first of what will be a semiregular Around the World feature: Source-Outing, an occasional side trip into the elements that make up the most distinctive artists' innovative blends. For Hart, in this case, it's a rich and varied collection:
- Loop Guru, 'Duniya' and 'Amrita ... All These & the Japanese Soup Warriors': The English duo wasn't the first to incorporate sounds from various cultures (especially Indian and Middle Eastern) into electronic dance music, but its seductive blend caught Hart's ear, especially its initial mid-'90s releases. "I listen to a lot of trance music," Hart says. "Their first records are their best."
- Babatunde Olatunji, 'Drums of Passion': No coincidence that Olatunji is given a place of honor on the 'Global Drum Project' album with the opening track, 'Baba.' The Nigerian-born percussionist's debut was a landmark of what came to be called world music and also a big influence on such hipster icons as John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie -- as well as a certain young drummer. "It really caught my attention when it came out in 1960," Hart says. "That might date me a little, but I'm at the top of my powers. As a drummer you can stay young. I would have to say that this album is certainly a big influence."
- Alla Rahka and others, 'Drums of North & South India': Released in 1966 as the Beatles-led wave of interest in Indian music started to swell, this collection on the World Pacific label (home of Chet Baker and other jazzbos) showed that percussion wasn't just for accompaniment, but in the hands of such masters it could lead. Not surprisingly, that appealed to young Mickey -- especially the 17-minute piece featuring Rahka that opened the album, years before Hart met the tabla player's son, Zakir Hussain himself. "I don't think it's in print now, but it was a powerful influence," Hart says.
- Various, 'Music for the Gods' and 'Living Art, Sounding Spirit: The Bali Sessions': Two sets of Balinese music, respectively vintage (recordings made in 1941, released by Hart on his World/360 Sound label in 1994 via his work with the Library of Congress' Endangered Music Project) and recent (recorded by Hart on trip to the Indonesian island in 1998) -- "I would have to mention the gamelan genre," he says. "This has always been the carrot for me. A 21st-century gamelan was what I had in mind with Diga, and this new album is an extension of that for what I would consider a Western version of gamelan."
In the music, though, it's hard to separate the individual influences, and often hard as well to distinguish which of the players is doing what at any given time. That's exactly the idea, Hart says.
"We did that on purpose. That's why we don't even list who played what. We played a lot of instruments, but we want to have that anonymousness. This is a real band, just like the Grateful Dead. We trust each other, love each other, hang out, as close as you can get. And when we go down the road after shows, we play drums."