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Baker's Dozen

Delving Into Consciousness: Hamid Drake's Favourite Music
Sean Kitching , September 4th, 2019 09:47

Percussionist Hamid Drake guides Sean Kitching through 13 favourite albums of cosmic enlightenment courtesy of Alice and John Coltrane, Don Cherry, Ravi Shankar, Jimi Hendrix and much more. Photo by Ludmilla Faccenda


Don Cherry - Brown Rice
Brown Rice had a deep influence on me, musically and in a spiritual way also. Don was doing compositions where he was singing various mantras and songs that were related to Tibetan Buddhism - which was something I was getting into at the time. It was the first time that I’d ever heard those mantras done in a sort of jazz or world music context. For instance, there is a meditational deity called Green Tara, and one of the songs Don did was based around her, when he sang the mantra ‘Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha’. When I first heard that, I was like: “Wow, he knows about that?” Then he was singing another mantra, ‘Om Mani Padme Hung’, based around Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of compassion. He was also singing about the man who was the head of the Karma Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. It was the order of Buddhism that I was involved in at the time, so that was so important for me to hear that. From a musical perspective, it was how the music was so tight but loose at the same time. Listening to Billy Higgins playing the pulse, playing the time but also opening up in a very seamless sort of way. A lot of people will ask me, ‘how is it I can play very open and then go into different grooves in a way that’s very seamless?’ This was one of the recordings that instilled something in me regarding that way of playing. So, Brown Rice was, and still is, one of the recordings at the top of my list. I would listen to it and just feel happy [laughs]. It also brings back a lot of memories of the time that I was fortunate to be able to spend with Don Cherry, when we first played together in 1978, then intermittently, until he passed away in ‘95.