Babatunde Olatunji and the Drums of Passion

December 19, 1992
The Wetlands, New York City, NY

1. Loyin Loyin
2. The Beat Of My Drum
3. Ife L'oju L'aiye
4. Jam >
5. Akiwowo > Akiwowo (A Capella)

Welcome to African Jam Rock! Here is a spirited performance by one of the all-time greats. Babatunde Olatunji is a master drummer from Nigeria who transplanted himself to the United States in the 1950's and made it his life-long goal to spread the gospel of rhythm. While he always maintained the integrity of the music, he also made Africa more accessible to Western ears. He recorded with the likes of Cannonball Adderly, Horace Silver and Max Roach. In 1990, he released "Drums of Passion: Beat," which was produced by the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart. In this reviewer's opinion, it was his greatest album. A year later, Hart and Olatunji collaborated on the Grammy award winning "Planet Drum." A year afterwards, this show runs through most of "Beat." Tunes that may have only been a few minutes on the album are expanded to 10 minutes here. The song writing is catchy, the band is tight and the improvisation is explosive with talking drums, electric guitar, saxophone and of course Baba's Gnoma drums. Local heroes "the Suns of Jubal" opened for this show at the beloved and now departed Wetlands in New York City. It was a magical evening. Live recordings of the now deceased Olatunji are extremely rare and this high quality one makes for both a great introduction to African music and a prized asset to an existing collection.

sound quality: I'd rate this as a B+. This is a great recording. Given the balance between the audience and band, it often sounds like a matrix. Very minor chit-chat leaks into the microphone(s) during a softer moment here and there. Overall, this does what audience recordings do at their best: give the listener a feel for what it was like to be there. The crowd is very enthusiastic!

Source: audience recording with unknown equipment > Maxell XL II audio cassette > Nero Wave Editor v. > Nero Burning Rom > TDK CDR > EAC > FLAC Fontend

Total time: 51:17

unknown taper, transferred and uploaded by jedimastermojave

Olatunji's web page:

Babatunde Olatunji: lead vocals, gnomas and ashiko(s)
Gordy Ryan: Djun-djun (bass drum) and bell
Sikiru Adepoju (of "Planet Drum" fame): talking drum
?: talking drum
?: traps
?: saxophone
?: electric guitar
?: keyboards

Sanga of the Valley (Anthony Francis) was probably there on djembe and Bruce Langhorne may have been the guitar player. There may have been a bass player, my memory of the event is foggy after fourteen years. Any help will be appreciated on a complete personell list. Throughout the show, the members are announced, but it is difficult to make out their names. Specifically, names are announced at the end of track four (the jam) and near the end of Akiwowo.