CHRIS DAVE AND THE DRUMHEDZ
Cover Photo by Dante Marshall
Every band has a drummer. But what they don’t have is Chris Dave. Deemed “superdrummer” and one of the “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” by Rolling Stone. Questlove once described Chris as his “worst nightmare.”
At some time or another, you were listening to Chris hit skins and you probably never even knew it. Chris Dave is that ubiquitous drummer that has set the tone and kept the time for countless records, shows and artists. Your favorite drummer’s drummer, Chris dave quietly collects Grammys, while continually making new legends and stars shine.
Chris Dave was born in Houston, Texas and began drumming for local choirs and gospel singers like Kim Burrell and Yolanda Adams. Soon after, while attending Howard University, he caught the attention of Mint Condition, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. “Mint Condition was doing a black college tour and I cut class to see it. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were there, so my friends and I went up to them, like, ‘Yo, you should sign us.’ We didn’t even have a band. But Jimmy’s like, ‘I’ll listen to y’all for five minutes.’ I don’t even know what we played, but next thing you know, Mint Condition is calling me to be their drummer.” explains Chris.
Chris dropped out for the opportunity to open for Janet Jackson. Since then, the work has just kept pouring in. From 2009 – 2012, he has worked on three Grammy-winning albums across three different genres: Maxwell’s “BLACKsummer’s night”, Adele’s “21”, and the Robert Glasper Experiment’s “Black Radio.”
It is this wild discography of talented collaborations that inspired the Drumhedz. From Justin Bieber and Q-tip, to D’Angelo and Thundercat, the Drumhedz are the session players and family of road warriors that amalgamate the nucleus of modern sound.
“I never knew what it was going to sound like when we all got together,” says Chris. “But I could picture it, like, ‘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.'”
There are nearly 50 Drumhedz in here, spanning core crew like Pino Palladino (bass), Isaiah Sharkey (guitar), Cleo “Pookie” Sample (keys), Sir Darryl Farris (vocals) and Keyon Harrold (horn), to old familiars like James Poyser (the Roots), Stokley Williams (Mint Condition) and Shafiq Husayn (Sa-Ra), to fresh guests like Anderson .Paak, Bilal, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Phonte Coleman.
“People say you can’t have all of these sounds in one place,” says Chris, “but how we hear things, it’s just music. You like it or you don’t. This is a ‘why can’t you?’ album.”
Chris Dave and the Drumhedz is the debut, self-titled album released on January 26 on Blue Note Records. Led and composed by Chris, the Drumhedz succeeds in it’s lift-off approach to the outer-limits. There is something to be said about the subtle gospel-like soundscape of the album. With flair and humor, Drumhedz taps in to colorful, organic social-messaging that strikes a chord of morality, playing lightly upon various spiritual themes such as paying tithes and giving back. The metaphoric use of ‘urban church skits’ works well, and the layered components of jazz, soul and gospel create an atmospheric temple of unique sounds.
Songs like “Job Well Done” featuring Anna Wise and Sir give a universal pat on the back for all those in need of a warm hug, while Stokely’s “Cosmic Intercourse” takes flight into sensual dimensions transcending imagination. Don’t be surprised if “Spread Her Wings,” a classic R&B flavored duet featuring Bilal and Tweet will get those deep passionate waters from boiling over. From the Erro and Phonte laced “Destiny in Stereo,” to the light-hearted, frolicking “Whatever”, and “Sensitive Granite” with electro-translucent vocals by Kendra Foster insisting that we “slow it down…way down”, the Drumhedz are apparently setting a galactic course outside of our own solar system. In “Black Hole” Anderson Paak emphatically lets us know that “It’s way to cold, and we’re out here in the belly of the black hole,” a socially-charged, uptempo track suit with Afrobeat lapels that should’ve made the Black Panther Soundtrack.
Too many to name, perhaps the most satisfying track on the album is “Atlanta Texas”, a snazzy, juke-joint with funky attitude and a bluesy backdrop. The horn arrangement along with the vocal accoutrements provided by Goapole and Shafik Husayn are dangerously delicious. Uh oh! There is a rouse amongst the clergy, the congregation is getting restless! Spirits are getting higher and higher! If this were battle of the bands, I could clearly see “Atlanta Texas” going toe to toe with Outkasts’ “SpottieOttieDopaliscious!”
For more info on Chris Dave and the Drumhedz visit HERE