Continuing his quest to bring world music to the masses, former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart brought his Global Drum Project to the Overture Center in Madison, Wis., last week.
Consisting of longtime Hart collaborator Zakir Hussain, the phenomenal Indian tabla player, and Nigerian talking drummer Sikuru Adepoju and conga expert Giovanni Hidalgo, the Global Drum Project is a study in polyrhythmic trance music, pairing a variety of percussion instruments with the electronic washes of Jonah Sharp.
Alternately hypnotic and tribal, with instances of wild, uninhibited soloing — Hidalgo and Hussain, in particular, were mesmerizing to watch, with Hidalgo a whirlwind on congas and the insane skitter of Hussain's tabla — the quartet swung from powerful, synchronized surges of beats, like the ebullient "Baba," to the jaw-dropping, ambient beauty of "Funky Zena."
The organic nature of the live experience, plus the mind-blowing improvisation of these masters of their instruments, made the Global Drum Project album, which was released Oct. 2 and has been steadily moving up the world music charts, come alive in unexpected and utterly transfixing ways.
This wasn't just a collection of songs. It was a journey through strange musical terrain, from jungles of sound to oceanic and desert soundscapes. If you get a chance to see this act, do go. You won't be disappointed.
For more on the Global Drum Project, visit www.shoutfactory.com.