Pulling Strings

Originally published by Robin Tolleson for Bold Life

September 1, 2009

With David Grisman, it’s never been about making any kind of socio-musical statement, but more just satisfying his own demanding and far—reaching musical leanings. He has raised eyebrows with his forays into fusion, turning the blue into newgmss with drums, horns and world beats at times, and his Dawg Music has brought the mandolin into […]

Mickey Hart: Planet Drum Adventures

Originally published by Robin Tolleson for Modern Drummer

April 18, 1999

Mickey Hart wears a lot of hats during a Planet Drum concert. He wails on a suspended set of bells, then leads the musical parade with a booming surdo. He is digital programmer, musical enabler, and cheerleader empowering his comrades. He’s an environmental spokesman and an ethnomusicologist. He’s a teacher, a player, and a hell-raiser. And in the […]

Latin Master Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez

Originally published by Robin Tolleson for Modern Drummer

September 17, 1997

It is one of the first rehearsals for Santana with the band’s new drummer, the monstrous Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez. The group is working through one of its classic tunes, and as the deep groove intensifies, Hernandez seems to grow two extra arms and legs, playing a dizzying combination of cowbells, toms, and splashes on top […]

Folk Activist – Havens’ moving message still powers the music

Originally published by Robin Tolleson for The Pacific Sun

August 24, 1996

It‘s not accurate to say that Richie Havens is “back,” because he never went away. “We’re still on it. Actually, we didn’t get off of it yet,” he says. “It was just a little disguised by the ware of the day.” A fiery folk activist whose “Handsome Johnny” (co-written with Louis Gossett Jr.) became an […]

George Duke: The Ears Have It

Originally published by Robin Tolleson for Mix

October 1, 1989

George Duke finished a stint as musical director of David Sanborn’s Sunday Night and quickly flew back to the West Coast to remix a 12-inch single of “All Or Nothing At All” for Al Jarreau. Dance singles are not Duke’s favorite thing to do, but the 43-year-old was having fun with this funky, rapid-fire groove […]

RECORD REVIEW: Herbie Hancock – Perfect Machine

Originally published by Robin Tolleson for Down Beat

November 22, 1988

Perfect Machine– Columbia 40025: Perfect Machine; Obsession; Vibe Alive; Beat Wise; Maiden Voyage/P. Bop; Chemical Residue. Personnel: Hancock, Apple Computer, synthesizers, piano, Vocoder; Jeff Bova, synthesizer, programming; William “Bootsy” Collins, bass, Vocoder; Sugerfoot, vocals; Nicky Skopelitis, Fairlight drums, DST, turntables; Mico Wave, keyboards, bass, talk box, Vocoder. (FOUR STARS) Perfect Machine may not be that different from Herbie’s Man-Child […]

Geddy Lee: Bass Is Still The Key

Originally published by Robin Tolleson for Bass Player

November 1, 1988

One might imagine a five-time poll winner on bass like Geddy Lee of Rush talking about the virtues of taste and technique. But the 34-year-old Lee now laughs that he tries to be as obnoxious as he can in the limited time he’s allowed to play the bass guitar with Rush. Maybe that’s one reason […]

DAVID GRISMAN: Acousticity And Other Dawg Dreams

Originally published by Robin Tolleson for Down Beat

June 1, 1986

After all the music he’s been through, David Grisman is still something of a purist. The man who brought the mandolin into the homes of millions who’d written it off as prehistoric; who has adapted his instrument form bluegrass to jazz, funk, and latin music, raking in ire from folk traditionalists along the way; the […]

Robert Cray’s Blues Out of Bounds

Originally published by Robin Tolleson for Mix

January 1, 1986

Bluesman Robert Cray is hoping what he’s heard is true–that artists who gain big followings in England soon follow suit in the States. Cray’s third album, False Accusations hit #1 on the British independent Charts (according to Melody Maker), and has risen into the Pop Top 20 to boot. For the 32—year—old guitarist and vocalist, […]

Billy Cobham

Originally published by Robin Tolleson for Down Beat

September 1, 1985

SAN FRANCISCO—With a new album out, Warning (GFlP Records), world-renowned drummer Billy Cobham is threatening a move back stateside. Cobham plans on settling in Southern California, teaching a bit and touring with his latest band. He wants to get back into the public eye after spending four years living on the outskirts of Zurich, Switzerland. “There’s nothing wrong with living in the United […]