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Hamid Drake

Hamid Drake is an American jazz drummer and percussionist. He lives in Chicago, IL but spends a great deal of time touring worldwide. By the close of the 1990s, Hamid Drake was widely regarded as one of the best percussionists in jazz and avant improvised music. Incorporating Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African percussion instruments and influence, in addition to using the standard trap set, Drake has collaborated extensively with top free-jazz improvisers. Drake also has performed world music; by the late 70s, he was a member of Foday Musa Suso’s Mandingo Griot Society and has played reggae throughout his career. 

Drake has worked with trumpeter Don Cherry, pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, Fred Anderson, Archie Shepp and David Murray and bassists Reggie Workman and William Parker (in a large number of lineups).

"[Drake's] mastery of pulse drumming, textural sculpting, hand drum techniques, reggae, funk and garage punk makes him one of the most articulate and linguistically advanced musicians on the circuit… Cecil Taylor once claimed that each man is his own academy. If that's the case, Drake is surely one of the mystery schools." - David Keenan, The WIRE

Featured releases

After touring together in 2016, Paul Dunmall's joyous Quintet returned to OTO last winter. Known for his past collaborations with saxophonist Elton Dean and drummer Tony Bianco, and his work with improvising quartet Mujician (with pianist Keith Tippett, bassist Paul Rogers, and percussionist Tony Levin), Paul's work as a writer really shines brightest with this Quintet. The first set showcases totally new material - The Soultime Suite - and the second an emphatic rendition of 2016's Dreamtime Suite. Pure melody switches through pennywhistle, trumpet, tenor and alto with an elated rhythm section keeping things high energy. "When I listen to Paul, which is a great pleasure, and when I play with him, I hear the whole history of everything. You hear the history of the saxophone. You hear what Yusef Lateef called 'The Great Tradition'. That's the type of artist I want to be, one that reflects, as Paul does, the great tradition." Hamid Drake in conversation with Soweto, BBC. “Ever since I heard UK sax colossus Paul Dunmall with Keith Tippett’s Mujician quartet, I knew that there was something special, spiritual about his (tenor) sax playing. Nobody has a sound like him, he is in a class of his own!” – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Free Jazz Collective --- Paul Dunmall / tenor & alto saxophone, pennywhistle Hamid Drake / drums & framedrum Percy Pursglove / trumpet Steve Tromans / piano Dave Kane / bass --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO on Thursday 8th November 2018 by Shaun Crook. Mixed and mastered by James Dunn. Artwork by Paul Dunmall. 

Paul Dunmall Quintet ft Hamid Drake – 8.11.18

Double CD documenting the magic meeting of one of the all-time great rhythm sections in jazz: percussionist Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker, with London’s brilliant Black Top (Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas) and Elaine Mitchener. Across two sets the quintet are infectiously energetic and inspired, striding from synchronised heavy groove to star bright solos, whilst incorporating dub effects, guimbri and sumptuous blues piano playing.  Formed by Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas but always realised with an ever changing number of invited musicians, Black Top's blend of lo-fi samples, dub effects and experimental electronics has been daring free improvisation since 2011. Their virtuoso performances draw on their Afro-Caribbean roots with delicious spontienty and humour; the histories of Ridley Road Market, the LIO and Islamic West Africa are sounded out side by side on iPad, marimba and vibraphone. Having met in 2006, Black Top played with bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake as part of their residency at Cafe OTO in 2016; forming a quartet grounded in transatlantic kinship but which looked outward to the Carribean, calypso music and Saharan gnawa rhythms. When Parker and Drake returned to OTO in 2019 Black Top reformed again, but this time with the brilliant addition of vocalist Elaine Mitchener.  Over the last few years the clarity with which Mitchener has explored vocal expression in the global Black Avant Garde has been stunning, but here the range in her influences is manifest, moving effortlessly between phonetic and poetic experimentation and spoken word, all the while at ease with soul soaked jazz and dissonant free fall. A hand drum duet with Hamid Drake astonishes before being laced perfectly with cosmic theremin and Parker’s fantastic acid shehnai.  --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO on Sunday 28th July 2019 by Paul Skinner and mixed and mastered by James Dunn. Photos by Dawid Laskowski and artwork by Oliver Pitt. 

Black Top Presents: Hamid Drake / Elaine Mitchener / William Parker / Orphy Robinson / Pat Thomas – Some Good News

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