Special Guests Donald Harrison and Nicholas Payton
Drummer/percussionist Will Calhoun is set to perform at The Blue Note in New York from Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19, with sets at 8:00PM and 10:30PM. The performances will serve as an album release engagement for his new project, Life In This World (available May 14 on Motéma Music). Calhoun will be joined by labelmates bassist Charnett Moffett and keyboardist Marc Cary, as well as special guest saxophonist Donald Harrison. Additionally trumpeter Nicholas Payton will appear as a special guest on May 18 and 19 only.
Before he became famous as a member of the groundbreaking hard rock group Living Colour, Will Calhoun was an aspiring jazz drummer raised on a steady diet of his father’s bebop records. Calhoun goes back to his roots on his latest album, Life In This World – but to get there he takes a circuitous route through a wealth of musical experience around the globe. From studies with master musicians in Africa to experiments with electronic music in his home studio, Calhoun’s adventurous sonic imagination couldn’t help but expand the horizons of a stellar jazz recording which pairs the drummer with greats including Wallace Roney, Donald Harrison, Charnett Moffett, Marc Cary, Doug Wimbish, John Benitez and legendary bassist Ron Carter.
“Life In This World is a spiritual title,” Calhoun says, “which to me just means the sonic world of my experiences. It’s Will Calhoun in the sense of what influences me and what inspires me, but aimed more towards a jazz audience.”
Jazz was the first music that Calhoun heard while growing up – “Before rock, before hip-hop, before funk,” he recalls. “In my family, African-American history was very important, whether it was Muhammad Ali or Jim Brown, Coltrane, Miles, Duke Ellington – It wasn’t just listening to the music in my house, the life styles of these men and other women were laid down as history lessons on the music and culture.” Living in the Bronx, however, it wasn’t long before Calhoun was exposed to myriad styles and cultures, from rock and funk to the burgeoning style of hip-hop. It actually came as a shock to the young drummer when he discovered that for most people genres were defined by hard boundaries – a lesson he learned first at Berklee College of Music and later while on the road with Living Colour.
Calhoun, who like many artists have been urged by industry members to focus on one particular area, has found a happy home in the maverick Motéma imprint, (also home to Marc Cary and Charnett Moffett and now celebrating it’s 10th year) because the label especially focuses on virtuosic creative music that crosses genres and international borders. Calhoun compares playing so many different styles of music to speaking several languages, stressing that “to keep a language sharp, you have to speak it with people.” There’s no doubt from Life In This World and his entire body of work that Calhoun is a fluent and soulful communicator in many diverse tongues.