The African diaspora beats in drummer Babatunde Lea
Drummer Babatunde Lea sounds relieved when he is told his music has the "accessibility" of jazz amid its challenging percussion lines.
"That's good to hear," he says, "because that's really where I am from. The years working in New York have me in a hard-bop, post-bop sort of mindset,"
To that mindset, he blends rhythm patterns that are not of the standard category, as he will show this week at the First Fridays at the Frick performance in Point Breeze.
"I guess you could say my music is jazz steeped in the music of the African diaspora," says Lea (pronounced, Lee). "We try to take a look at the music of a lot of different African cultures and blend it together."
Besides displaying that in concerts, this fall he also will be teaching it when he begins work at Gettysburg College in Adams County. His wife, Virginia, teaches in the school of education at the college.
Lea grew up in New York City and New Jersey, listening to Afro-Caribbean music and becoming influenced by the work of an African master drummer he met when Lea was 11.
He began working with musicians such as saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and vocalist Leon Thomas Jr. early in Lea's career, which exposed him to many world rhythms.
That continued when he moved to the San Francisco area in the late '60s.
His albums, such as "Soul Pools," have reflected that cultural mixture. He has a new one coming out in August, "Umbo Weti," which looks at the roots of the yodeling sound often used in the vocal work of Thomas (1937-99).
Although his music is not of a predictable sort, Lea does not anticipate having any trouble working with a crew of Pittsburgh-area musicians -- keyboardist Howie Alexander, saxophonist Jay Willis and bassist Dan Wasson.
He says he worked with them at a talent presentation workshop at the Byham Theater, Downtown, in the spring, and that has helped build some understanding. Getting together once more before Friday's show should solidify that work.
After all, his music has many of its roots in jazz.
"That's where my heart is," he says.Additional Information:
When: 7 p.m. Friday; gates open at 5:30 p.m.
Admission: $5-per-adult donation is suggested
Where: Frick Art & Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Crosby, Malkin didn’t sign on for this
- Penguins’ Malkin: ‘We’re not a championship team’
- Cole shuts down Diamondbacks as Pirates open road trip with victory
- Penguins eliminated with Game 5 overtime loss to Rangers
- First Amendment experts decry Plum authorities’ warning to students
- Fleury valiant in defeat
- All Pennsylvanians to pay more, GOP gleans from report on Wolf’s tax plan
- Pitt introduces Barnes as athletic director
- Rangers’ defensive plan against Penguins was unwavering
- 2 Hempfield Area students charged with sexting
- Driver of pickup truck dies following crash into New Kensington house