Hamid Drake (born August 3, 1955) is an American jazz drummer and percussionist. He lives in Chicago, IL but spends a great deal of time touring worldwide.
By the close of the 1990s, Hamid Drake was widely regarded as one of the best percussionists in jazz and avant improvised music. Incorporating Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African percussion instruments and influence, in addition to using the standard trap set, Drake has collaborated extensively with top free-jazz improvisers. Drake also has performed world music; by the late 70s, he was a member of Foday Musa Suso’s Mandingo Griot Society and has played reggae throughout his career.
Drake has worked with trumpeter Don Cherry, pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, Fred Anderson, Archie Shepp and David Murray and bassists Reggie Workman and William Parker (in a large number of lineups)
He studied drums extensively, including eastern and Caribbean styles. He frequently plays without sticks; using his hands to develop subtle commanding undertones. His tabla playing is notable for his subtlety and flair. Drake‘s questing nature and his interest in Caribbean percussion led to a deep involvement with reggae.
Hamid Drake credits two people as being very inspirational to his music and life on a deep and personal level. One is Fred Anderson who gave him the chance to deeply explore the world of creative expression. The other is his life-partner and best friend, Clay Chalupa, whose many years of encouragement continues to bring and to transform daily life into a much needed voice of healing and truth and joy.
Hamid Drake was born in 1955 in Monroe, Louisiana, and his family moved to Evanston, Illinois when he was a child, just as an older musician from Monroe named Fred Andersonalso moved to Evanston, with his family. Hamid started playing with local rock and R&B bands, which eventually brought him to Fred Anderson‘s attention. Drake worked with Anderson from 1974 to 2010 including on Anderson‘s 1979 The Missing Link. At Fred Anderson's workshops, a young Hamid met Douglas Ewart, George Lewis and other members of Chicago‘s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Another of the most significant percussion influences on Drake, Ed Blackwell, dates from this period. Hamid‘s flowing rhythmic expressions and interest in the roots of the music drew like~minded musicians together into a performance and educational collective named the Mandingo Griot Society, which combined traditional African music and narrative with distinctly American influences.
Career Don Cherry, who Drake first met in 1978, was another continuing collaborator. After meeting Don Cherry, Hamid and fellow percussionist Adam Rudolph travelled with Don to Europe, where they explored the interior landscape of percussion and shared deeply in Mr. Cherry‘s grasp of music‘s spiritually infinite transformational possibilities. Drake worked extensively with him from 1978 until Cherry‘s death in 1995.
Drake was one of the founders, along with Foday Musa Suso and Adam Rudolph, of The Mandingo Griot Society. His other frequent collaborators include New York bassist William Parker, saxophonist David Murray, composer and percussionist Adam Rudolph, German free jazz saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and fellow drummer Michael Zerang. With percussionist Michael Zerang he has performed a solstice celebration semiannually in Chicago since 1991.
Drake performing with Iva Bittová in Moscow in January 2014
Now touring and recording all over the world and in constant demand everywhere, Hamid Drake has played and/or recorded with: Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Fred Anderson, Herbie Hancock, Archie Shepp, bassist William Parker (in a large number of lineups), Reggie Workman, Yusef Lateef, Wayne Shorter, Bill Laswell, David Murray, Joe Morris, Evan Parker, Peter Brötzmann, Jim Pepper, Roy Campbell, Sabir Mateen, Rob Brown, Marilyn Crispell, Johnny Dyani, Dewey Redman, Joe McPhee, Adam Rudolph, Hassan Hakmoun, Joseph Jarman,George Lewis, John Tchicai, Iva Bittová and almost all the members of the AACM. These diverse artists all play in a broad range of musical settings which allows Drake to comfortably adapts to north and west African and Indian impulses as well as reggae and Latin. Although engaged as sideman, he is also devoting his energies and creativity as a band leader; focusing on his own groups and projects such as Bindu or Indigo Trio.
In recent years, Drake has frequently appeared with Jazz legend Archie Shepp in various configurations. The most common is the group Phat Jam along with human beat boxer and rapper Napoleon Maddox. Drake also works with Maddox in the Jazz hip Hop group ISWHAT?!. Drake performs with European jazz groups, recording with Hungarian musicians such as Viktor Tóth and Mihály Dresch, also releasing projects with Polish saxophonist Mat Walerian. In addition to the drum set, Drake performs on the frame drum, the tabla, and other hand drums.