Chris “Daddy” Dave & The Drumhedz Are Here To Make You Feel [Interview]

Chris “Daddy” Dave & The Drumhedz Are Here To Make You Feel [Interview]Chris “Daddy” Dave & The Drumhedz Are Here To Make You Feel [Interview]Chris Dave’s New Album With The Drumhedz & Feel Something

Dave has contributed his groundbreaking, explosive yet deeply soulful drumwork to albums by a broad array of artists from Adele to D’Angelo, Maxwell and Meshell Ndegeocello. The offerings on this album, which dropped Jan. 26 on Blue Note Records, range from the funky, instantly contagious “Dat Feelin’” (featuring SiR) to the delectable slow jam that is “Cosmic Intercourse” (with vocals by Stokley Williams) to the kaleidoscopic, hard-hitting “Lady Jane”. The iconic jazz label is home to pianist Robert Glasper, who also appears on the album, with other jazz musicians including trumpeter Keyon Harrold and saxophonists Marcus Strickland and Casey Benjamin. The core crew of Pino Palladino (bass), Isaiah Sharkey (guitar), Cleo “Pookie” Sample (keys) and Sir Darryl Farris (vocals) is joined by numerous others including James Poyser (the Roots), Shafiq Husayn (Sa-Ra), Anderson .Paak, Bilal, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Goapele and Phonte. But don’t let this long list of collaborators fool you; it’s the man with the drumsticks who’s leading the proceedings, with a voice all his own.

LISTEN: Phonte And Elzhi Reunite On Chris Dave’s New Single “Destiny N Stereo”

Dave’s playing is known for its sophistication, imagination, fire and virtuosity (astounding The Time, he learned to play the drum part for “777-9311,” which was created with a drum machine). And then there’s his unique way of choosing not only what but where to play, and where to leave space. Deceptively understated at times, you’ll need to go back to this album repeatedly to discover the exhilarating nuggets you may have missed.

@Okayplayer caught up with the Texas-born, 44-year-old legend over the phone who was about to go into the studio with The Band guitarist Robbie Robertson.

Chris “Daddy” Dave & The Drumhedz Are Here To Make You Feel [Interview]

OKP: You’ve said you weren’t sure what the album was going to sound like, but could picture it: “This album is gonna take place in a portal. You’re getting away from Earth, from all the bullshit. You’re safe, but now you’re in our world.” What is this interstellar theme that runs through the album (and some of your previous work, such as “Cosmic Slop” — the cover of a 40-second Dilla beat) all about?

CD: We just have our own portal. We know people have to deal with issues — things you have to tolerate to get around in the world — and at some point you want to escape. “Fuck it; I want to get back to where the Drumhedz hang out.” When you have that mentality, it’s more like a freedom thing of creating and inspiration; everyone is so respectful of each other’s art. It’s just a fun, peaceful place.

OKP: Can you share a particularly memorable moment from the recording process?

CD: When it was done, and I played it for Don, the expression he had on his face… “What the fuck am I listening to?!” — it was a good thing, not a bad thing. He knew it would be different than what was expected. There aren’t a lot of drum solos, there isn’t even an acoustic bass on it, and I wasn’t sure it would work with Blue Note; but he said that was exactly what he was looking for.

Chris “Daddy” Dave & The Drumhedz Are Here To Make You Feel [Interview]

Sharonne Cohen is a Montreal-based writer whose work has appeared in DownBeat, JazzTimes and Afropop Worldwide. You can find her work here.

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