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Son Of The Drum Song

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Mustafa Khaliq Ahmed - Bongos, Chimes, Claves, Congas, Cowbells, Cymbals, Djembe, Drums, FlexiTone, Gongs, Granite Blocks, Jingle Bells, Rain Stick, Shakers,Tambourines,Triangles, VibraSlap, VibraTone, Wind Tubes.


Charles Compo - Guitar, Keyboards, Flute

Mark Peterson - String Bass


Joseph Colmenero - Engineering and Mastering

Misael Garcia -Cover Art


Written by Mustafa Khaliq Ahmed and Charles Compo

Produced by Charles Compo

Chaos Music Company

Copyright 2019 Charles Compo

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Melody + rhythm = music.  Unfortunately, as a definition and an equation it’s not quite right.  A melody is a series of notes, but the way they are placed is in a pattern of rhythm, just as in speech.  And rhythm is nearly always made up of different pitches.  Drums speak, and sing, most notably in African and African-derived music, like Latin, Caribbean, and jazz.  Sometimes the “melodic” instruments become strongly “rhythmic,” as when they play riffs, those repeated rhythmic phrases behind a soloist in jazz, or as Cuban string sections turn rhythmic behind a singer or a flute in the Cuban charanga.  But symphony orchestras also have tuned drums, and pop and jazz groups have whole sets of drums, cymbals, and various wooden and metal devices that produce different tones.   We talk about “rhythm sections” as if they’re behind the rest of the music, like backup singers, when they’re actually part of the whole.  The different musical elements are welded together.  1 + 1 = 1 is a closer equation.


All this, to say that on this beautifully recorded album the melodic qualities of drums and percussive instruments are on full display by Mustafa Ahmed, sometimes leading, sometimes weaving their way through other melodies, but never, ever, only keeping time.  This is especially evident on “Backyard Jam,” “Djembe Jam,” and “In the Beginning.”  Typically, recordings that feature percussionists are dominated by bravura displays of energy and loud solos.  But Ahmed’s multi-tracked lines show him as a musical draftsman, listening closely, using discretion, and finding a place at the center of Compo’s pellucid flute work and Mark Peterson’s powerful and richly-toned bass. 


Mustafa Ahmed first came to attention in New York with his work on James Mason’s classic soul hit “The Rhythm of Life” in 1977.  At almost the same time, he began working with renowned cellist and composer Arthur Russell, who had moved from classical to Downtown minimalism, and Ahmed’s  playing and arrangements helped him cross-over again, this time into hip-hop, dance music, and world music with disco hits such as “It’s All Over My Face,” “Let’s Go Swimming,” and “This is How We Walk on the Moon.”  When Russell died in 1992 Ahmed continued to record and travel with other of Russell’s associates, Peter Gordon, Elodie Lauten, Peter Zummo and Steve Hall.  Recently he has been performing in Paris and appears on Parisian Oko Ebombo’s recording, Naked Life.  He has also worked with dance companies like Trisha Brown’s and Bill T. Jones’ and Arnie Zane’s, and performed on electronic graphic artist Kitt Fitzgerald’s Return of the Native.  In New York he is active in contemporary gospel music.


For the past thirty-five years Mustafa Ahmed has been closely associated with composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Charles Compo, who as a very young man recorded the sophisticated and electronically innovative Seven Flute Solos, a set of multi-tracked flute quartets that was produced by the legendary Harry Smith and published by Smithsonian Folkways.  Mustafa has been the multi-track percussionist with Compo’s many jazz-rock CDs including “Mind Frame,” “The Phibes,” “Foolish Pleasure,” “Portable Darkness,” “Soothing Music of the Savage Beast,” and “Seventh Moon.”  They have put him in the company of some of New York’s most interesting musicians, the likes of Curtis Fowlkes, Sam Furnace, Wayne Cobham, and Camille Gainor-Jones.


John Szwed


John Szwed is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, African American Studies and Film Studies at Yale University and an Adjunct Senior Research Scholar in the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, where he previously served as the Center's Director and Professor of Music and Jazz Studies. Szwed is the author of many books on jazz and American music, including studies of Sun Ra, Miles Davis, Jelly Roll Morton, Alan Lomax and Billie Holiday.

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