BioJamaican master percussionist Larry McDonald is at the heart of MCPR Music' "Drum Fusion" project. Now he crowns a storied forty year career with his first solo album "Drumquestra". Steered by veteran reggae producer Sidney Mills, it's a personal, mystical dance floor masterpiece that McDonald lovingly calls "a drummical experience."
McDonald coined the unusual title for the crew who brought his cherished vision to life -- a unique orchestra uniting generations of Jamaican drummers: Sly Dunbar, Isaiah "Stickie" Thompson, Bongo Herman, Carl McCleod, Marjorie Whylie, Alvin Haughton and three drummers from the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Royo Smith on bass, Simba Messado on repeater & Delroy “Putus” Williams on funde.
"I wanted to take elements from everywhere, because all drums from Cuba, Africa or Brazil are family" Larry explains. "I knew that rhythms from many places could work together and make a whole different texture. I wanted to take Jamaican rhythms I was familiar with, like kumina and rasta and weave them together into something old but new."Other guest friends include dub poet Mutabaruka, anguishing on "Free Man", Ras Tesfa on “Drum Say”; and veteran reggae legends Toots Hibbert who riffs vigorously on "What About The Children", Stranger Cole who pairs with his sassy DJ son Squidly on the poignant "Crime or Music" and Bob Andy who delivers elegant scatting on the historic tribute "You Got Jazz?" MCPR DJ Shaza's exuberance romps through the healing shout-out of "Brotherman" and the more meditative "Peace of Mind", on which he's joined by the singer, J.D. Smoothe. It's also DJ Shaza's words and fervor rocking the guaranteed dance floor filler "World Party."
After moving to America in December 1973, McDonald hit the charts drumming behind pop star Jackie de Shannon on the album “Jackie”. He provided the pulse for revolutionary poet Gil Scott-Heron, and spread Afro-Caribbean music around the world. Always busy, McDonald has waited decades for the right time to step forward, solo. "It did take a long time," he says, "but one of my mottoes is, if you make yourself good enough, it will happen. You just have to stay on it."
That faith is fulfilled by "Drumquestra’s" rich brew. It triumphantly distills McDonald's own epic percussion explorations, starting with Jamaican mento and ska in the 1960s, and flowing through the exciting cross-currents of Africa, Brazil Cuba that he knows as his own. "I've worked with poets and the voice since the 1970s when I had a four drummer band called Truth and worked with the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica " McDonald explains. "I always want to reinforce what the words are expressing without drawing attention to what I was doing. For 'Drumquestra,' I had to find my own way of expressing myself musically."
That quest led McDonald to delve into his own roots, recording organically -- in the Green Grotto caves at Runaway Bay on Jamaica's North Coast for the exuberant, Shaza-driven "World Party"; sea sounds and cave sounds on "Mento In 3"; and using Bongo Shem & the New Creators, a kumina drumming group from the mystic St. Thomas area, for the sacramental "Backyard Business." Limpid bird song introduces "Drumquestra (Dawn Always Comes)," with its delirious duelling scats by Anjali Paray & Richie Paray.
The mature super-grooves of "Drumquestra." transcend boundaries without blurring them and fit onto decks and playlists from Boston to Brixton and Bali.