Drummer/Composer Omar Hakim to Release First Album in 14 Years, WE ARE ONE, 3/3
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With a long and varied list of credits that reads like a Who's Who in Rock and Jazz (Weather Report, Miles Davis, Madonna, Sting, Dire Straits, David Bowie, Daft Punk, among countless others), Omar Hakim has long been regarded as one of the elite drummers on the scene. And because his services have been so in-demand since the '80s, his own solo projects have been few and far between. He debuted in 1989 with the aptly-named Rhythm Deep and followed up in 2000 with The Groovesmith, both of which showcased his writing-arranging skills along with his irrepressible prowess on the kit. Now, 14 years later, comes Hakim's crowning achievement to date. A powerful, genre-defying high energy concept album, We Are One boasts an all-star cast including keyboardist Rachel Z (Wayne Shorter, Peter Gabriel, Al Di Meola), guitarists Chieli Minucci (Special EFX) and Jimi Tunnell (Trilateral Commission) along with keyboardist, co-writer and arranger Scott Tibbs, bassist Jerry Brooks, vocalist Angel Rogers and special guests Gregoire Maret on harmonica and Bob Francheschini on tenor sax. For a few songs on the album, Omar also acts as multi-instrumentalist, performing on guitar, keyboards, bass and vocals.
From the epic opener "Transmigration" (which draws favorable comparisons to Return To Forever'sRomantic Warrior or Chick Corea's To The Stars) to the breezy, catchy pop flavored "Carpe Diem," the aggressively burning, crunchy metal-jazz of "Walk The Walk," the ultra-funky "Listen Up!" and the mellow, lyrical title track, Hakim and his crew traverse a myriad of styles on this ambitious outing. And drum aficionados take note: there are plenty of examples of Omar digging deep and slamming with rare authority throughout this powerhouse session. "I used to get a lot of criticism and flak from the fans because they would always say, 'You don't play enough drums on your solo records.' So this time I wanted to make sure I play some serious drums. And I think this project really captured a lot of different aspects of my drumming style on one record -- the funk stuff, the rock stuff, the jazzier stuff. It's kind of all there."
Says the drummer-composer of his third recording as a leader: "I always try to play from a spontaneous emotional place so that the tunes feel like they're happening at that moment, that they're not planned at all. And as a result, in a live performance, they're always going to be different. And I guess that's really what the spirit of jazz is at the end of the day. And though it wasn't my goal to make a jazz record, per se, I think that my jazz upbringing kind of informs everything I'm doing whether I'm playing rock or funk or whatever. The part of jazz that makes you explore possibilities of a musical idea, that 'in-the-moment-ness' of jazz, gives you a wider palette to work with musically and technically. My career has been about doing a little bit of everything. That was very much intentional for me. I wanted to get myself in a position where people would call me to contribute and hopefully enhance their musical experience. But all those experiences, for me, where also informed by that spirit of in-the-moment-ness that jazz is all about."
With Omar composing all the tunes as well as arranging and playing on every track, and also engineering a bulk of the album, We Are One stands as the great drummer's magnum opus in a long and illustrious career.
Omar Hakim also has two CD release shows in March: March 10 at The Blue Note in NYC and March 12 at The Howard Theater in Washington DC. For more information, visit http://www.bluenote.net/newyork/schedule/moreinfo.cgi?id=11839 or http://thehowardtheatre.com/show/2014/03/12/the-omar-hakim-experience/.