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Will Calhoun Quartet

featuring Ronnie Laws

Contemporary Jazz


Don’t miss this opportunity to see two virtuosos perform together at Anthology. Will Calhoun is best known as the drummer of the funk metal band Living Colour.

He has also played with Jungle Funk and HeadFake, recorded several jazz albums as a leader, and has appeared as a sideman with a diverse group of acclaimed artists, including Pharoah Sanders, B.B. King, Herb Alpert, Dr. John, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller, Public Enemy, and Ronnie Wood. He plays in the song “Crimson Deep,” from “What Lies Beneath” album by the Finnish Symphonic Metal singer Tarja.

Calhoun’s virtuosity has been well known among musicians ever since 1988 when he was chosen “Best new drummer of 1988” by Modern Drummer Magazine’s readers poll; “Number one progressive drummer” by Modern Drummer Magazine’s readers poll three times (1989, 1991 & 1992); Best Drummer of 1990 by Rolling Stone Magazine’s critics poll.

Will has also won two Grammy awards, one in 1989 for best hard rock performance by a group and then again for best hard rock performance in 1990. Living Colour also won an international rock award in 1991 for best rock band. In addition to drumming, Calhoun also wrote the songs “Pride,” featured on Time’s Up, and “Nothingness” from Stain.

Calhoun’s drumming incorporates many different stylistic influences and various augmenting technologies. With Living Colour, he was one of the first drummers to blend advanced funk and fusion techniques with elements of hard rock and thrash metal.

More recently he has integrated Drum and Bass grooves, ethnic percussion and sampling into his playing. He is a very physical player, with a broad vocabulary from extremely precise grooves to more free-form avant-funk and jazz approaches. He is also an avid user of the Korg Wavedrum, which allows him to integrate banks of effects (including guitar pedals and other effects not typically associated with percussion instruments) into a single drum. Calhoun has recently added a Mandala Drum into his setup. The Mandala is a dynamic multiple control zone electronic surface that uses sensor technology to detect where and how hard a surface strike occurs.

Ronnie Laws, who will be featured in Calhoun’s quartet at Anthology, is an American jazz, blues and funk saxophonist and the younger brother of jazz flautist Hubert Laws. He is also a former member of Earth, Wind and Fire.

In 1975, he began his solo career with the album Pressure Sensitive, on which his most famous instrumental song, “Always There”, was included. It became an instant jazz-funk classic, covered by numerous artists.

In 1978 he released an album called Flame under United Artists Records and from it a 12″ single was released called “All for You” with a strong vocal presence and additional tracks entitled “Let’s Keep it Together” and “Nuthin’ ’bout Nuthin” from other previous albums.

The 12″ single was his first issued in the UK as well as the US, and paved the way for this format to be used for promoting artists’ work at the time without the need to own the full LP.

Apart from playing saxophones, Laws also sings. Notable vocals include “Every Generation” (1980), “Stay Awake” (1981, included on the album Solid Ground) and “Mr. Nice Guy” (1982).

Laws has also recorded with numerous other artists, including Arthur Adams, Howard Hewett, Brian Culbertson, Ramsey Lewis, Jeff Lorber, Hugh Masekela, Alphonse Mouzon, David Sea, and Sister Sledge.

In 1999 a tribute to Ronnie Laws’ “Always There”, mentioned earlier, was played by a group of musicians including Boney James, Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Kenny Garrett and Larry Carlton performing the number at the Montreux Jazz Festival. This has been issued on DVD and is entitled Casino Lights ’99’.

Sound Observations with Will Calhoun

By David Moye

Will Calhoun is best known as the drummer for the late 80s rock band Living Colour and Ronnie Laws is a funk jazz saxophonist best known for his work with Earth, Wind and Fire.

Like most musicians, both have progressed beyond the music they are best known for, but Calhoun realizes getting the general public to look beyond those two bands on their resume is going to be difficult.

“We’re still in a box,” he admits. “People have amnesia and attach you to whatever made them discover you.”

In Calhoun’s case, it was Living Colour, which, in its time, set the world on fire by being a band of black musicians who were able to play rock, funk and metal with equal facility on hits like “Cult of Personality” and “Glamour Boys.”

But when Calhoun comes to Anthology on April 1 with the Native Lands Experience with Ronnie Laws, fans should expect something closer to jazz than hard rock – and it’s not new for him.

“I’ve always played jazz,” Calhoun says. “Even with Living Colour, I worked with artists like Wayne Shorter. It’s easier for fans to get behind that now. I’ve played on records and that means people can look your name up and see who you’ve played with.”

Anyone who looks up Calhoun’s name will see a lot of familiar names including Pharoah Sanders, B.B. King, Herb Alpert, Dr. John, Jaco Pastorius, Marcus Miller, Public Enemy, and Ronnie Wood.

Being a guy who lives in the present, Calhoun is most excited about his current gig with Laws. It came about by accident.

“I’ve been a fan of his for many years,” he said. “I met him at a club where he was performing and, later, asked him if he needed a ride. On the way, we talked about music, politics, promoters and I told I’d like to do something with him.

Turns out, so did Laws and the current tour is exciting them both.

“I know Ronnie would like to make it permanent,” he said. “These shows are based on what he brings – melodies – and what I bring: jazz and a world music influence.”

It’s a new project so Calhoun realizes he still has to give people an idea what to expect. But his explanation is not expected at all.

“Don’t expect burgers and blue jeans,” he laughed. “It’s more like police uniforms and hot pants.”


FRI 4/1, 7:30pm click to purchase tickets

click to purchase tickets

“In 1988, Living Colour’s Will Calhoun exploded onto the world stage with a unique mix of power and finesse. Will’s continued to evolve in startling ways, and today he’s considered one of the most profound drummers alive.” –Modern Drummer

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