Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart’s innovative Planet Drum CD convened some of the world’s finest drum talent for a collaboration that won the very first GRAMMY for world music — bringing together Nigerian drum legend Babatunde Olatunji, Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, Nigerian talking drum ace Sikiru Adepoju, and Puerto Rico’s master conguero Giovanni Hidalgo, among others. The 1991 album spent an unprecedented 26 weeks at #1 on the Billboard world music chart, and continues to sell as a perennial favorite.Fifteen years later, the musical partnership of Hart and Hussain — which began with their groundbreaking 1970s world fusion experiment Diga Rhythm Band — resumes, with a fresh collaboration of tranced-out grooves, elegant electronic programming and hypnotic tuned percussion and again enlists the great partnership of Adepoju and Hidalgo. This time they are joined by Taufiq Qureshi on percussion & vocals, Niladari Kumar on sitar, Dilshad Khan on sarangi, and the late, great Olatunji in sampled vocals from the original sessions. Elements from Hart’s various world music recordings, including the Kaluli tribespeople of Papua New Guinea’s rainforest, are woven with the live performances into a danceable, multitextured celebration of rhythm.
By utilizing space age programming, production and exotically tuned percussion Global Drum Project is one hypnotically tranced-out groove around the world and into its beating heart.
The album isn't quite the skull-rattling experience one might expect. Instead, the grooves percolate and seduce, building trance-inducing layers that evoke, variously, the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia.
The qualitative aspects shine radiantly during this tightly-coordinated and entertaining installment of the unit's latest percussion jamboree. It's all executed with a prophetic sense of good cheer.
Taken in full, the music on Global Drum Project plunges into the darkness and illuminates it from within. As with Hart’s past pursuits, the set inevitably becomes a consciousness-raising excursion that is filled with hope and healing.