256 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, California 94133

"Lea brings a heady and propulsive sense of soul to jazz, along with something deeper--an authentication of the music to African culture."
– Providence Journal

Babatunde Lea has been a Bay Area treasure since his arrival in San Francisco in 1977 after a half-decade in New York City, where he performed with stars like Oscar Brown, Jr., Lonnie Liston Smith and Kenny Kirkland.

In his fiery, spiritual percussion playing and composing, audiences can easily discern the flowing, beating influences of African, Latin, Caribbean and North American rhythms and cultures. Performing with Babatunde will be his regular bandmates: Richard Howell (sax & vocal), Glen Pearson (piano) and Geoff Brennan (bass).

Babatunde explains his musical philosophy thusly, "[T]hrough many of the African cultures lies the understanding that there is no separation between mind, body and spirit . . . Polyrhythms are a metaphor for universal culture. Polyrhythms are connected. So are we as human beings."

That spirit shines through his performances, as has been noted frequently by journalists everywhere:

“Babatunde rendered his audience stunned witnesses to the unity of man, drum and music.” – Vallejo Times-Herald

“It’s been awhile since I’ve felt the kind of passionate heat and burning sense of message generated by drummer Babatunde Lea. He’s one of the hottest jazz/world attractions on the festival scene.” – Seattle Times

“The ecstatic audience gave the visitors a deafening ovation at the end.” – Irish Examiner, of Babatunde's performance at the Cork Jazz Festival

Babatunde Lea is an inspiring percussionist, both an established session musician and an accomplished bandleader and teacher. He has worked alongside Pharaoh Sanders, Van Morrison, McCoy Tyner, Leon Thomas, Joe Henderson, John Tchicai, and Bobby Hutcherson.

Of his recent release, March of The Jazz Guerrillas, Scott Yanow of the All Music Guide said, "This exciting set by percussionist Babatunde Lea ranges from Afro-Cuban jazz to interplay by the three horn players that is reminiscent of Charles Mingus' bands. There is no letup in the intensity and passion, even in the slower numbers. . . . The stirring ensembles and heated rhythms make this a particularly memorable outing that is highly recommended."

Babatunde was born in Danville, Virginia. His family moved northward up the Eastern Seaboard when he was only six months old and came to settle in Englewood, New Jersey. It was there that he was first inspired by his aunts and cousins and by stories of his drum playing Aunt Gloria (first woman in Virginia playing drums in a marching band) to begin playing drums himself.

In 1959, at age 11, he attended a concert of African drumming and dance performed by Babatunde Olatunji and his Drums of Passion which left an indelible impression on this young drummer and permanently set his direction in life. In the ninth grade he began playing conga drums and was playing on a professional level by his junior year in high school when, at 16, he played on his first professional recording session for producer Ed Townsend.

In the early 1970s Babatunde hit his stride in New York City performing regularly with such high profile artists as Leon Thomas, Oscar Brown Jr., Lonnie Liston Smith, Kenny Kirkland, John Purcell, Buddy Williams and Eddie "Gua Gua" Rivera. It was in 1977 that Babatunde migrated to the West Coast where he settled in the culturally fertile San Francisco Bay Area.

It was not long before Babatunde became a vital figure in the Bay Areas music scene as well, becoming known for his versatility and ability to fit into several music genres. Since then, Babatunde has been the first call drummer for musicians seeking a dynamic and spirited drumming that he brings to the music.

Official Website: http://www.jazzatpearls.com

Added by in2jazz on January 26, 2007

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