Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hit me again: The return of Global Drum Project

When: Friday, Oct. 17, 2008 • Where: O’ShaughnessyWho: Global Drum Project: Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Giovanni Hidalgo, Sikiru Adepoju: drums, percussion, electronics; Jonah Sharp, computers, processors

Why go to see Global Drum Project twice in one year? Because it’s Global Drum Project, the reunion of four great percussionists, each worthy of the overused descriptor “world class.” Because opportunities to see any of the four individually are rare, and the chance to see them together is a lightning strike. Because the CDs [Planet Drum (1991), Global Drum Project (2007)] are amazing but nothing compares to live music. Because unless the power fails or someone breaks a hand it’s a sure thing.

We have good seats to start with, then meet our friend Rich Solomon in the lobby, who moves us up to the orchestra pit. For well over two hours, allowing for a nine-minute intermission, the music is transporting, transcendent, detonating, tranced-out. We hear tunes from the 2007 CD (“Baba,” “Kalilu Groove,” “I Can Tell You More”) and probably also from Planet Drum and perhaps even Diga, the album Hart and Hussain released 15 years before Planet Drum, before world music was a category, when they called themselves Diga Rhythm Band.

Dense textures, complex rhythms, hypnotic grooves, soaring vocals, lengthy and spectacular solos, blurred hands and sticks and mallets, calls-and-responses (Hussain does his rapid-fire ticka ticka ticka vocalizations, Hidalgo responds, or Adepoju responds on his talking drum). It seems that any instrument that can be beaten, banged, shaken, pounded, stroked, or hit is on that stage: drums, bells, gourds, chimes, rattles, shakers, skins, goats’ toes, tambourines, things with feathers, vegetables in a bowl (more rattles).

The audience is happy, the performers are happy—the balcony at O’Shaughnessy didn’t sell, so this is the intimate main-floor crowd, seated in long rows without aisles that curve toward the stage. (For the curious, seating charts are available at the O’Shaughnessy site. We were in the first row B, seats 7–10.)

Words from “I Can Tell You More,” spoken by Hart over deep drumming:

Rhythm is the soul of life…
Realize your rhythm in life…

The sea, the heavens, the stars, they dance…

Rhythm vibrates within my dreams

It vibrates within us
It’s us. How cool.


  1. Definitely a great show! But how can any mention of Mickey Hart be made without mentioning, oh, the Grateful Dead!!!!?

  2. The Dead are mentioned in the review of last year's Global Drum Project show: You reminded me of a funny moment from this year's show. Toward the end, someone in the audience yelled, "WE LOVE YOU MICKEY HART!" To which Zakir Hussain replied, "What about me?" Someone (oh, maybe this writer?) yelled "WE LOVE YOU ZAKIR!" To be honest, I have listened to a lot more Mickey Hart apart from the Dead than with the Dead (Planet Drum, Spirit Into Sound, Supralingua...).


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