Any musician who has ever had even a modicum of success has had to learn how to keep a steady beat going. From a lead vocalist to the percussionist, without a feel for timing they wouldn't have even been able to play in the lowest of dives without being thrown off stage in a hail of beer bottles. But if you really want to make a connection back to yourself with music you need to search out percussionists who have made it their life's work, mission even, to seek out people of like mind from cultures around the world to work with.
Mickey Hart, formally of the Grateful Dead and various independent percussion projects, is one such gifted percussionist. Even during his days of drumming for the Dead he was busy with side projects all over the world. He would use his name and status to open doors for himself, and the musicians he worked with in other countries, to ensure their non-commercial projects would not only be recorded, but even released and promoted.
One of his earliest collaborators was the amazing tabla player Zakir Hussain. The two men have known each other since the 1970s when they were key figures in the percussion project known as the Diga Rhythm Band. Aside from both being percussionists, they have a similar philosophy when it comes to their approach to music. Each of them describes the work they have done in the years since that last record appeared as steps on a journey.
While neither of them are very clear about where the journey is going to take them, they are clear about making sure that they are continually learning and experimenting with different means of expressing rhythm. Their new release, Global Drum Project, due out Oct 2nd on the Shout Factory label, sees them hooking up with two other percussionists; Sikiru Adepoju on the African talking drum and Giovanni Hidalgo supplying a Latin groove.
The eight tracks on this disc represent a distillation of a great deal of the music they have absorbed and learned about in the years since the Diga Rhythm Band projects of the seventies. Aside from bringing together music from the Amazon Basin to Papua New Guinea and all stops in between, they've also embraced the potential that technology has to augment what can be done with the human body.
The result is absolutely spellbinding, in the almost literal sense of the world. From the opening track "Baba", featuring guest vocals from Babatunde Olatunji, through to the ethereal "I Can Tell You More" that closes the disc, you are taken on a trip not only around the physical world via various musical influences, but to the unlimited world that resides with each of us.