"I stand in awe of the recent Chesky Records release, love drum talk by the legendary percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, a titanic musician. This disc is simply staggering. It's as if some elemental, primeval, mystical musical force were somehow magically captured on a piece of polycarbonate, to be released when played back on a music system. The sound quality is as staggering as the music." - Frank Doris, FI, June 1998
April 7, 1927- April 6, 2003
On April 6, 2003, the music world lost a remarkable individual, a legendary musician, teacher and humanitarian. Babatunde Olatunji led a rich life of creativity and passion and Chesky is honored to have produced Olatunji's last commercial release, love drum talk, nominated for the 1998 Grammy award of Best World Music Album. The African Music Encyclopedia writes, "Baba was the single most important contributor to the popularization of African hand drumming in the United States....spreading his love of the drum, song, music, and African culture inspiring generations of American musicians, many of whom have devoted their careers to African music and who are, in turn, spreading Baba's message to their students." All of us at Chesky will miss Babatunde Olatunji and remember him with the utmost affection and admiration.
"The spirit of the drum is something that you feel but cannot put your hands on,
It does something to you from the inside out . . .
It hits people in so many different ways.
But the feeling is one that is satisfying and joyful.
It is a feeling that makes you say to yourself,
"I'm glad to be alive today! I'm glad to be part of this world!"
---Babatunde Olatunji (The African Music Encyclopedia www.africanmusic.org/artists/olatunji.html)
"Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm. Everything and every human action revolves in rhythm." - Olatunji
Babatunde Olatunji is "Master of Drums," a virtuoso of West African percussion. Born and raised in Nigeria, Olatunji was educated at Morehouse College in Atlanta and the New York University Graduate School. At Morehouse, he began performing informally, entertaining fellow students. As the demand for his music increased, he entered the professional music field.
In 1959, Columbia Records released Olatunji's first album, Drums of Passion, which became an unprecedented, worldwide smash hit. It was the first album to bring genuine African music to Western ears, and it went on to sell over five million copies. Olatunji has traveled the world for forty years spreading his music and African culture. Thirty years ago, he founded the Olatunji Center of African Culture in the heart of Harlem and he has been a member of the faculties at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York for almost 15 years. At these institutions, as well as at innumerable workshops and festivals, Olatunji continues to pursue his strong commitment to spreading knowledge of African culture through the teaching of traditional drumming, dancing, and chanting in classes for adults and young people.
Olatunji received a Grammy Award in 1991 for his collaboration with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart on their Planet Drum album. In addition, his composition "Jingo Lo Ba" has become a signature song for the rock group Santana. Olatunji also has written scores for Broadway and Hollywood productions, including the music for She's Gotta Have It, a film by Spike Lee.
In 1997, Chesky Records released love drum talk, which went on to be nominated for the 1998 Grammy for Best World Music Album. On it, Olatunji unleashes the rhythm of passion. Olatunji leads an ebullient ensemble of guitarists, singers and, of course, percussionists through a series of spirited meditations on the nature of love. Lust, kinship, sensuality, courtship, and spirituality are the themes Olatunji uses to fuel his joyous, infectious playing.
Recorded using 96kHz/24-bit technology and available both as a CD and a startlingly present-sounding DVD, love drum talk brings you right to the core of Olatunji's musical celebration. You'll hear every palm on every drum and every finger on every string. You'll be stunned by the sound, but the music will make you want to move. This is the sound of love, and Babatunde Olatunji is asking you to dance.