The Turning: Percussion Expansions

By Jerry Leake

The Turning: Percussion Expansions "The Turning" is an African rhythm played on the atsimevu master drum of the Ewe people of Ghana, repeated during the warrior drama "Agbekor." The Turning describes the motion of dancers who perform a graceful turn as the rhythm is played. "The Turning" also serves as a metaphor for cultivating new instrument combinations and ideas.

Produced by Jerry Leake
Audio CD (August 2006)
Number of Discs 1
Recorded and mastered at Squam Sound by Randy Roos
© 2006 Jerry Leake & Rhombus Publishing
Get MP3 format for immediate download.


Featuring Guest Artists

Lisa Leake, vocals
Randy Roos, guitars
Jonathan Dimond, electric bass


African: balafon (xylophone from Burkina Faso) • atsimevu, totodzi, sogo, kidi, kagan, gonkogui, atoke bells, axatse/shakers, voice (Ewe people of S. Ghana) • gung-gong (bass drum), lunga (talking drum), voice (Dagomba people of N. Ghana) • udu (clay drum)
Indian: tabla, naqqara, hadjini, elephant bells, voice, ankle bells
Frame drums: Moroccan bendir, African tar, Egyptian riq
Misc: vibraphone, drum set, Chinese cymbals, Spanish cajon (box drum), Brazilian berimbau, Tibetan bells, Japanese bowl gongs, flat gongs, glass wind chimes, bells/bell trees, temple blocks, Cuban clave, devil chasers (Filipino buzz sticks), Moroccan karakab (metal castanets), sticks, glockenspiel, thunder maker, log drum

Track Listings

1 Woodwork (4:38)
balafon (played w/ 4 mallets) • sticks • cajon • shakers, blocks • clave
2 En Tundra (5:02)
tabla, udu, foot shaker • sogo, kidi • balafon • kagan • voice
3 Nature Boy (1:00)
vibraphone • percussion
4 The Wave (3:46)
frame drum • balafon • metallophones • shaker
5 Kabu (4:32)
guitars • naqqara (w/ hands) • balafon • karakab • tuned bells
6 Letter to Evan (2:33)
7 Blue in Green (1:22)
vibraphone • bass • percussion
8 The Turning (7:21)
gonkogui, totodzi • atsimevu • balafon • kidi • kagan • sogo • voices • karakab • shakers
tabla • talking drum • bells
9 Waltz for Debby (3:05)
vibraphone • bass • drum set
10 Hullo Bolinas (0:33)
vibraphone • bendir • gung-gong, cymbal • devil chasers • shakers • vibraslap
11 Invisible Dancer (3:01)
12 Master's Image (3:37)
balafon • udu • sogo, kagan
13 Ramki (4:00)
hadjini • voices • tabla • udu • balafon • bell, shaker
14 Silver 10ths (1:01)
vibraphone • percussion
15 Turn Out the Stars (1:42)
vibraphone • percussion
16 Lamashu (3:12)
gung-gong • lunga • voices • tabla • karakab • berimbau • gong
17 It's About Time (1:48)
voices • tabla • drum set • shaker • naqqara • sogo, kidi • riq
18 Alien Alchemy (3:29)
vibraphone • metallophones • thunder maker • sogo
19 Peshkar (7:12)
tabla • vibraphone • balafon • glockenspiel
20 Banana Boat (3:26)
atoke bells • sogo, kidi • log drum • blocks • clave • ankle bells
21 Time Remembered (2:16)
vibraphone • percussion
22 Conundrum (1:58)
voices • devil chasers • balafon • udu


This is a truly unique recording that blends the styles and music of India, Africa, the Middle East, and America. Leake is a master of many instruments comfortably transitioning from riq to four-mallet jazz vibraphone. The listener is taken on a musical journey as one track may include balafon, udu,and tabla, and the next track will be solo vibraphone. Many of the tracks on this disc are creations by Leake himself, who plays all parts via separate tracking of each instrument, while others are jazz standards by Miles Davis and Bill Evans. Highlights of the disc include "Invisible Dancer," a solo for riq, and the opening track, "Woodwork," which includes impressive four-mallet playing on balafon accompanied by cajon, shakers and clave. Leake's recording will be appealing to percussion enthusiasts as well as world music buffs.
Scott Herring
Percussive Notes Magazine, June, 2007

Besides vibraphone, Jerry Leake plays a wide array of percussion instruments on this ambitious session… Of course, the exotic timbres mean something special to Leake and his audience: they provide the impetus for his creative improvisation. Leake is a percussionist through and through… This album expands upon the concept of percussionist as rhythm-maker, and features Leake in various melodic and harmonic roles. The riq, a traditional tambourine from the world of Arabic music, gives "Invisible Dancer" a thorough shaking free, while the tabla gives "Peshkar" a mesmerizing hold. Leake expands upon traditional rhythms to bring improvised music a welcome treat.
Jim Santella
Jazz Improv Magazine, 2007

Jerry Leake plays many unique world percussion instruments on this CD blending authentic rhythms and timbres from around the world in the spirit of each culture. The performance is outstanding, accurate, intense, but remains relaxed and grooving. I'm listening repeatedly hoping to internalize this intriguing music and the emotions it evokes. I highly recommend "The Turning".
Dave Weigert, Professor, Berklee College of Music
Author: "Jazz Workshop for Bass and Drums"

Jerry Leake has put out the definitive album for things you hit with hands and sticks. The fact that he uses instruments from the world over makes it impossible to regionalize the sound, yet it sounds rooted in tradition because the initial rhythms are classic. The intrigue is furthered by his interesting choice of instruments, creating a sound that at times sounds grounded and abstract at the same time. I would classify this as New World Rhythm, if that means anything! It's a beautiful undefinable journey into rhythm.
Austin Hill
XM Satellite Radio's "P.O.T.U.S. 2008" Channel

For a percussion album, The Turning has plenty of changes to keep things interesting, and from start to finish the combinations work. Recommended for any world percussion fan's library.
Scott Allan Stevens
Earball Media

I fell in step/love/sync with it right away.
Roberta Hilliger
World Music, KTEQ

Internationally recognized percussionist Jerry Leake sought to create entirely new sounds with traditional Indian and African instruments and rhythms. Each piece begins with a singular rhythm that is expanded with the use of a new rhythm, instrument or technique. Combined with Leake speaking and/or singing drum rhythms, the result is a vibrant, contemporary take on the traditional repertoire. There are some original compositions by Leake as well as arrangements of both traditional tribal songs and a few jazz classics.

The title track of the album, "The Turning" features a mixing of African and Indian instruments. The inclusion of the Indian tabla, as Leake is shown with in the picture above, in this African rhythm is very rewarding. Leake has been called one of the greatest non-Indian tabla players, and the examples here do not refute the statement. The tabla rhythms blend with those played on the balafon and sogo drum to create a thickly harmonized sound.

It would take many hours of listening to dissect each piece into its separate components and analyze each one individually. Each track is indefinitely unique and showcases Leake's proficiency in all areas. There is never a dull moment and the energy level is always high. Even without prior knowledge of these styles and instruments, this album is quite enjoyable to listen to.
Lorelei Clarke

Jerry Leake's expertise centers on West Africa and North India, although his appetite for percussion instruments seems endless: he lists 42 of them in his credits, with vibraphone, balafon, metallophones, and tabla most prominent. The pieces are a mix of traditional themes (mostly African or Indian), elaborations, and jazz pieces (Bill Evans is favored). Several songs employ voice, which plays out as another form of talking drum. There's a bit of extra guitar on one track, bass on two, but the 22 tracks are mostly solo. The result is like an encyclopedia -- a set of experiments, all interesting, some quite enchanting.
Tom Hull on the Web

Wow! What a great polyrhythmic percussive workout!
Tarkus Kayoa
KEOL, East Oregon University

I just returned from a Fulbright Fellowship in the Philippines and received your cd. It is amazing and I enjoyed it greatly, including the wonderful adaptations you did for Ghanaian drumming and Indian solkattu. I especially enjoyed the time cycles in 10 and 13 beats, very inspiring.
Royal Hartigan
Percussionist, Author, Scholar

Your CD was excellent. It was so creative and I love the xylophone stuff. Your vibe playing is awesome too. Great job.
Joe Galeota
Faculty, Berklee College of Music

Excellent! We will definitely spin it!
Scott Stevens
World Music Director, KAOS Olympia Community Radio

It is beautiful!
Harish Dang
Sounds of India, WRCA Radio