Chris Dave and the Drumhedz – Chris Dave and the Drumhedz

Superstar jazz drummer Chris Dave's new album is full to the brim with guest contributions from the likes of Anderson .Paak, SiR and Bilal

Album Review by Peter Simpson | 01 Feb 2018
  • Chris Dave and the Drumhedz – Chris Dave and the Drumhedz
Album title: Chris Dave and the Drumhedz
Artist: Chris Dave and the Drumhedz
Label: Blue Note Records
Release date: 26 Jan

You may not be fully aware of it right away, but chances are pretty good that you’ve heard the drumming of Chris Dave. Whether you’re a hip-hop head (he’s a member of D’Angelo’s band), a jazz lover (he has credits alongside Thundercat and Robert Glasper) or a pop fan (he was the sticksman on Adele’s enormo-record 21), the Houston native has long been regarded as a master behind the kit.

This background goes some of the way to explaining his debut album as a bandleader. This is a record packed to the brim with guest vocalists and layers of instrumentation, all sitting on top of rock-solid yet unpredictable grooves.

From the outset Dave’s drumming is the album’s great driving force, all syncopated beats and exciting flourishes, and when the instrumental and vocal combinations work they’re fantastic. Universal Language and Destiny N Stereo rock on the kind of slick grooves that immediately invoke the glory days of 90s hip-hop, while Cosmic Intercourse (with Dave’s old Mint Condition bandmate Stokley Williams) and the Anderson .Paak-featuring Clear View are a pair of glorious overblown pieces that fuse all manner of genres together.

On the other hand, there’s so much going on here that it can be hard to keep up. Tracks often feature three or four guests, complex arrangements and multiple melodies and motifs. When the horns and cymbals start flying all over the place things can get a bit overwhelming, although it’s a credit to Dave’s percussive abilities that his beats can always pull a track back into line. They say you shouldn’t judge an album by its cover, but ...Drumhedz’s artwork – a wild, exciting and action-packed scene with many moving parts, but with the drummer firmly at the centre of attention – is as good a summary as any.

Listen to: Destiny N Stereo, Clear View