Will Calhoun’s Celebrating Elvin Jones in stores today, 8/19

PHOTO: ANDRE BETTS | Will Calhoun, the hard-rocking drummer from Living Colour reaches back to his roots and formative musical experiences with his second album on Motema Music. Celebrating Elvin Jones is in stores today and features an all-star cast of great jazz musicians.

Calhoun may be best known for his work with the pioneering rock group, but his influences are wide and varied. He said, “Elvin connected my worlds. Although I saw him playing jazz, I felt rock and roll, I felt fusion, I felt African music. It sounds electric, it sounds acoustic, it sounds very African, it sounds very Latin, there are all these elements in there.”

In making the album, Calhoun surrounded himself with players who were also influenced by Jones or played with him. The band is anchored by bassist Christian McBride and features saxophonist Antoine Roney, pianist Carlos McKinney, and trumpeter Keyon Harrold. In keeping with an “it’s all music” ethos that defines the career of Calhoun and was clearly part of Jones’ musical world view, fusion keyboard legend Jan Hammer is featured on one cut and a recording of the late Senegalese percussionist Doudou N’Diaye Rose performing with a group of drummers opens “Doll of the Bride,” a traditional Japanese folk song.

Though it may sound odd to include an old recording of African drumming on a new jazz version of a Japanese song, it makes sense in the context of Calhoun and Jones’ love of African percussion. Calhoun said, “Elvin and Doudou remind me of each other. They have a lot in common in how they speak about rhythm and music…” The song is one of the standouts on a disc full of them. Preview them above

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