The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

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


Ram Dass - The Evolution of Consciousness & Amazing Grace
I saw Ram Dass speak at this church in Chicago. There are two recordings from that time that really made a strong impact on me. It was a record that he’d made with his Sangha group, I don’t remember the name of it but it was a double LP and they were singing Kirtans. I was getting into all these things. I’d found a copy of his book Be Here Now, then later I found a copy of the record that he had put out, with him talking a bit but also the singing, chants and stuff and that was something I used to sit and listen to. That had a profound effect on me because it helped me to stabilise in this path, and it made me realise that I wasn’t alone, that there were whole communities who were into this thing. Also, just being able to listen to the voice of the person who wrote the book Be Here Now, had a very inspiring effect upon me. That introduced me to the whole practice of what is called Kirtan - ‘holy songs’ - with tabla and harmonium. One of the great Kirtan singers now is called Krishna Das. His career kind of came out of that with Ram Dass. Also, there was a violinist on the record, who was an African American - Charlie Burnham. Years later, we did a recording together. We met in other contexts too. One day, I saw Charlie, maybe five years ago and so I asked him: ‘Were you on that record with Ram Dass, that first recording he put out?’ He looked at me and said: ‘You know about that?’ I said, ‘yeah because I’m looking at you and I’m remembering your picture there’ and he teared up. I mean, no jazz musicians ever talked to him about that stuff.