Jerry Leake African & Indian percussion, drum set, vocals, vibraphone
Randy Roos guitars, bass
Steve Hunt keyboards
Mr. Rourke turntables/samples
Santiago Bosch e. piano
Roni Eytan harmonica
Max Gerl e. bass
Produced and Arranged by Jerry Leake
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Randy Roos at Squam Sound, NH
© 2017 Rhombus Publishing, Boston, MA
Crafty Hands is my 7th CD produced at Squam Sound with Randy Roos at the helm as engineer, player, and co-composer on several tracks. I first pioneered the genre "World-Rock-Fusion" with three previous "Cubist" CDs, discovering that there is no limit to the possibilities for combining musical cultures. On this CD, my philosophy and passion for placing ancient rhythms into modern soundscapes has reached a new and exciting level.
The opening title track draws from deep roots in Ewe music, Flamenco bulerias, Ashanti bell and shaker patterns, Moroccan frame drum and metal castanets, Dagomba gung-gong repertoire, and sabar grooves and baks (breaks) from Senegal. Randy's nylon string guitar is woven within ambient electronic sounds and metallic percussion.
Five other tracks trace origins to traditional repertoire of the Dagomba people of Northern Ghana. Dagombas play double-headed drums that are worn around the shoulder and struck with a curved stick: lunga (talking drum) and gung-gong (bass drum). The second track entitled "Apprentice" is built around an original Dagomba groove and melody that features three students from my Berklee Global Jazz class. These Dagomba-inspired compositions are dedicated to my late great teacher Alhaji Dolsi-naa Abubakari Lunna (shown below with his five sons).
Other tracks feature keyboard maestro Steve Hunt and the ingenious Mr. Rourke on turntables and samples. As one sample elegantly states: Begin by Listening...
Reviews"Few percussionists have invested as much energy into the teaching and performing of the cross-pollination of North/South Indian and West African Music; when you add the experience of being a jazz vibraphonist to that journey, it becomes a place where few people share such a broad spectrum in their approach to music. All of us Westerners who encounter diverse musical gardens with open hearts realize that our musical journeys are going to be a long, deep commitment to traditions and knowledge that are not the original sounds and rhythms of life that we were imprinted with as young children. Finding the meaning of it all in a way that really speaks to our lives is the goal and Jerry has found his way to tell his story here on Crafty Hands! Whether it is West African drumming, North India tabla playing, frame drumming, Tabla Tarang, Vibraphone, or digital scratching, Jerry goes after it and weaves it into his compositions."
- Jamey Haddad, Professor, Oberlin Conservatory; Paul Simon percussionist
"I really love the kick of the Crafty Hands! Jerry, you are the type of global musician we need in this era, the way you think and write your music with the intention of bringing different cultural traditions together in one song or CD is just smooth. So proud of your work and what you are doing!"
- Nani Agbeli, Professor of African Music, CalArts
"Jerry Leake has studied West African music deeply, for many years. From this basis of knowledge, Crafty Hands ventures into creative realms that engage the many styles of music he loves especially Jazz and Indian Music. All of the CD projects Jerry has produced are great but I particularly admire this one. Using traditional Ewe and Dagomba music with taste and respect, he has composed, produced and performed music that sounds wonderful on first listening and rewards repeated deep listening. Each track is an intricate temporal construction, almost like a rhythmic puzzle. Put on your headphones and join Jerry on his temporal adventures."
- David Locke, Chair, Music Department, Tufts University
"I listened closely to your recordings, and they are great! What I like is the diversity of all the sounds you creatively assemble into meaningful compositions and improvisations, not an easy thing to do—vibraphone, percussion, tabla, African instruments, drumset, voice, all of it creative. Each piece has its own identity and feel and makes every new track something of an adventure. Great playing and concepts and your music is happening!"
- Royal Hartigan, Fulbright Scholar to the Philippines, 2006; to Ghana, West Africa, 2014–15; Professor, Music Department College of Visual and Performing Arts Umass Dartmouth
"Your playing is so diverse and musical. And I am blown away by how many different sounds are coming off this recording. The recording itself sounds so natural, and all of the percussion sounds are earthy to the core. I am aware, of course, of your incredible drumming, but had no idea how prolific you are with mallets and vibraphone. Your music and your playing is so refreshing. It puts me in that 'good place' humans get to go to sometimes, if they are lucky. Awesome!!!"
- Rod Morgenstein, Professor, Berklee College of Music; drummer: Dixie Dregs, Winger
"Let your ears hear what they want to hear—it's all just sound, sound, sound." These are the words on Jerry Leake's final track on his brilliant new CD, 'Crafty Hands.' Jerry is more than a master percussionist of so many mingled traditions. He is a composer with a fertile imagination for the combination of old traditional rhythms, songs, and drums of Africa and India with unique ensembles of multi-tracking with guitarist Randy Roos, turntable and samples of Mr. Rourke, the jazz pianos of Santiago Bosch and Steve Hunt, and other contributors. Jerry himself offers up captivating solos of his virtuoso vibraphone playing and tabla tarang as wells as Ewe and Dagomba ensemble traditions presented in vocally unique polyphonic settings. His lead collaborator is guitarist Randy Roos (also the engineer for the recording), who blends eclectic acoustic and electric guitar sounds that range from clever and appealing ostinatos to wailing solos. Varied, explosive, meditative—‘Crafty Hands' is an important and creative contribution to contemporary music."
- George Ruckert, PhD, Senior Lecturer Emeritus, MIT; senior disciple of Indian sarod master, Ali Akbar Khan; author of five books on Indian classical music.
"Thank you so much for your CD, 'Crafty Hands.' I think you've really outdone yourself with this one! Terrific grooves, wonderful vocal harmonies, and kicking harmonica! You must have spent the night in the studio on multiple occasions. This is really a splendid recording. Congratulations!"
- B. Michael Williams, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Music Winthrop University
"Jerry has the privilege of being one of very select group percussionists that have immersed themselves in many world traditions. From African to Indian and beyond, his palette of sounds forms a rich tapestry of musical harmony."
- Pete Lockett, world-percussionist, author
"If you believe that the music resides in the details, ‘Crafty Hands' is your proof. They are all seamlessly woven into the deeply layered rhythmic and harmonic tapestry that Jerry Leake, Randy Roos, and friends have created."
- Skip Hadden, Professor: Berklee College, clinician, drummer
"Multi-percussion wizard Jerry Leake, deeply steeped in transcontinental musical explorations for decades, aptly applies his ‘Crafty Hands' to a brand new solo recording that not only fully deserves it title but also masterfully succeeds in turning age-old, yet timeless West-African repertoire into highly accessible, contemporary soundscapes. Whether wielding tabla, turntable, or talking drum—tasteful transcendence of roots is what Mr. Leake and his eclectic cast of guests are all about. And all WE need to do is to follow that playful invitation extended by one of this release's many superb tracks—Begin by Listening!"
- Bertram Lehmann, Percussion Dept. Faculty, Berklee College of Music
"Excellent CD! You have such a nice voice... very mesmerizing... calming... I love the vibe of the 1st tune especially!!!! Meditative... AND you are one talented guy!!! So many percussion instruments AND I got such a strong visual when I listen to it... I see a movie... John Williams look out! Honest... it tells a story and it's so eclectic... I hear/see each take for the next scene... You are the composing man!"
- Jon Hazilla, Professor of Percussion, Berklee College of Music
"Listening to the third track right now :-). I love the vocal melody of the traditional lead-off track! I am really digging what I am hearing so far! The drum set playing on tracks 2 and 3 is sweet!!! Middle of track 5—rockin' them drums!!! AWESOME surprise after more than a minute of mellow atmospheric stuff!!! :-) Really cool vibraphone piece, too!!!"
- Marko Djordjevic, Assistant Percussion Professor, Berklee College
"Jerry Leake is a groove master whose uplifting approach carries through in a diverse range of styles evident on this CD. From his strong voice singing a traditional Ewe song, to his sophisticated percussion styles and engrossing acoustic sound effects, Jerry matches his talent to the music at hand. I especially recommend track 1, 'Crafty Hands,' the namesake of the CD, which I hope will get some radio airplay, and the percussion grooves on tracks 2 and 3."
- Brita Heimarck, Associate Professor of Music, Boston University
"Crafty Hands is master percussionist Jerry Leake's newest world percussion tour de force. Featuring an impressive array of instruments from around the globe—tabla, gungon, vibraphone, sabar, pandeiro, and drumset, to name a few—Jerry forges new and unique fusions of world music traditions in a way that few others can. The skillful guitar playing of long-time collaborator Randy Roos adds a deeply melodic, and harmonic component to Jerry's percussive soundscapes and gentler yet virtuosic solo musical interludes offer dynamic contrast. If you would like to hear the culmination of a lifetime of study of world percussion by one of Boston's most renowned drummers, Crafty Hands is the album for you!"
- Ben Paulding, Drum Leader of the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society, Director of Fafali Music and Dance Ensemble at Brandeis University