All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

377

Olatunji: Drums of Passion

Mike Perciaccante By

Sign in to view read count
Columbia Legacy's reissue of Drums Of Passion offers a chance for new listeners to fully appreciate the groundbreaking 1959 debut CD of the late African drummer Michael Babatunde Olatunji. Hailed as a genius by none other than jazz greats John Coltrane, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie and referenced by Bob Dylan on his Freewheeling album, Olatunji has also toured with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and influenced the rhythmic masters of later generations (Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and superstar guitarist Carlos Santana).

Born in the small fishing village of Ajido, Nigeria, Olatunji came to the United States to study political science at Morehouse College in Atlanta. While in school, he formed his band from a group of African expatriates as an exercise and way to help each other avoid being homesick. In 1954, he moved up north to attend NYU Graduate School. Soon, Olatunji and his band were performing throughout New York City, the five boroughs and the surrounding areas. By 1957, Olatunji and his cohorts were performing at Radio City Music Hall backed by a 66-piece orchestra. Columbia Records‚ legendary A&R producer John Hammond happened upon one of these performances and immediately signed Olatunji to the label.

Drums Of Passion is an amazing and revolutionary album. It boggles the mind to think that the layers of sound were created by just four musicians and a handful of female backup singers. The drumming, though not exceptionally fast or complicated, is hypnotic. Even more amazing is the fact that Olatunji was able to re-arrange the drumming celebratory themes of his people and infuse them with American blues and jazz themes. Each track features the call and response theme (both vocal and rhythmic) that is the signature of the African musical experience. This theme is evident in Drums Of Passion and it could well be considered a cornerstone of modern jazz, R&B, hiphop and rap.

Upon its release, Drums Of Passion became a worldwide phenomenon. It could conceivably be considered the first "world music" album. Unquestionably, it was the first recording to popularize African music in the west. This was never more evident than when Olatunji performed at John F. Kennedy's inauguration. Drums of Passion provides a remarkable musical bridge between African and Western culture.

This newly remastered version of the classic album contains the bonus track "Menu Di Ye Jewe (Who Is This?)" which was recorded during the original sessions but was not available on the original release. More than just a great CD, Drums of Passion is a "cultural experience." Even today, forty-four years after its original release, this record will open the eyes and ears of new listeners to the vibrant nuances of traditional African music and vocals. Highlights of the original album include: "Akiwowo (Chant to the Trainman)," "Shango (Chant to the God of Thunder)" and "Jin Go La Ba (Drums of Passion)." However, each and every track is a mini-masterpiece in its own right. Drums Of Passion contains so many different tribal rhythms and elements of percussion that you can't help but be moved to the core by its ambiance, mood, tone and feel—even if you don't understand a word.


Track Listing: 1. Akiwowo (Ah-Key-Woh-Woh) (Chant to the Trainman) 2. Oya (Aw-Yah) (Primitive Fire) (Cult Rhythm) 3. Odun de! Odun De! (Aw Dun Day! Aw Dun Day!) (Happy New Year) 4. Gin-Go-Lo-Ba (Jin-Go-Low-Bah) (Drums of Passion) 5. Kiyakiya (Kay-Ya-Key-Ya) (Why Do You Run Away?) 6. Baba Jinde (Baba-Gee-Un-Day) (Flirtation Dance)

Personnel: Michael Babatunde Olatunji: drums, vocals; plus additional musicians.

Title: Drums of Passion | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Legacy Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Drums of Passion

Drums of Passion

Legacy Recordings
2003

buy

Related Articles

Read with whom you can be who you are CD/LP/Track Review
with whom you can be who you are
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Inner Core CD/LP/Track Review
Inner Core
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Dirigo Rataplan II CD/LP/Track Review
Dirigo Rataplan II
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 21, 2018
Read The Window CD/LP/Track Review
The Window
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
Mønk
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read "Midnight Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Midnight Sun
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 8, 2017
Read "Modern Lore" CD/LP/Track Review Modern Lore
by Gareth Thompson
Published: January 27, 2018
Read "Live at Van Gelder's" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Van Gelder's
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 4, 2018
Read "Transition" CD/LP/Track Review Transition
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 4, 2018
Read "Suspended" CD/LP/Track Review Suspended
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 12, 2018
Read "Landfall" CD/LP/Track Review Landfall
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 14, 2018