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Essential Echoes 2010
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Over the years certain artists have emerged as icons of the Echoes soundscape. These are musicians who shifted the direction of music, whose work influenced a generation and usually , musicians who also tend to be articulate thinkers about their art. In this series, you'll get all of the features Echoes has produced on these artists, often encompassing their entire careers.


Mickey Hart has spent the last three decades not just as a drummer with the Grateful Dead, but as a proselytizer for all things percussive. In Hart's world, rhythm rules and he's established himself as a high priest in the church of groove.

He's proclaimed his goal to create a "21st century gamelan music," a swirl of global percussion mixed with electronically triggered sounds. And he's done it, beginning with the Grateful Dead's Drums'n'Space segments, through to his 1976 global percussion orchestra, The Diga Rhythm Band and reaching fruition with Planet Drum. Planet Drum was a true global percussion orchestra that included Babatunde Olatunji, Airto Moreira, Zakir Hussain and Giovanni Hidalgo grooving on demon dervishes like "Udu Chant" and spacing out in "Temple Caves."

We've been interviewing Mickey Hart on a regular basis from 1989 to 2002. Those interviews are captured here, including a five part series that goes inside Planet Drum. In 1991 we visited the band in the Grateful Dead's rehearsal studio where we spoke with all the Planet Drum members and captured them performing live.

We chart Mickey Hart's global journey, from the Grateful Dead to Kodo, as an Icon of Echoes.

(Originally broadcast December 16 - 20, 1991)

In December of 1991, we dedicated a week of Echoes features to the sound of the drum, in particular, the music of Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. He's become the leading proponent of drums as a unifying and transformative aspect of culture, from earliest man banging sticks together to the latest hi-tech digital circuitry. This week we take an intimate look at Mickey Hart, and his many teachers, including Africa drummer Babatunde Olatunji, Brazilian percussionists and vocalists Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, and Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain.

Mickey Hart:
Portrait of a Drummer at the Edge of Magic

A sound portrait of Mickey Hart from his early years as a rudimentary drummer to his entry into the Grateful Dead and his induction into the myths, rituals and transformative power of the drums.

Mickey Hart: Drums of Transformation

For Mickey Hart, drumming is a spiritual quest, a means of altering consciousness and life. He talks about his passion, along with some of his percussion gurus, Babatunde Olatunji, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira and Zakir Hussain.

Mickey Hart's Planet Drum

Hart's second book is called Planet Drum and it completes his duet with "Drumming at the Edge of Magic," in defining the role of drumming throughout time, cultures and Mickey Hart's own life. He talks about his book and the album that accompanies it, "Planet Drum."

Inside Planet Drum

Planet Drum is a book, an album and a concert tour with four virtuosos of percussion from four continents. We go inside rehearsals for the Planet Drum tour as 8 musicians learn each other's percussive language.

Percussive Contemplations

Percussionists have a different relationship with their instruments than most, veering towards the spiritual. We'll hear some percussive comments from Zakir Hussain, Airto Moreira, Babatunde Olatunji and others.

And for a more recent look at what Mickey Hart has been up to, we have two features from the past year.

(originally broadcast June 2002)

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart casts the alloy of his drum orchestra. Best known for providing the rhythm for the legendary San Francisco rock group, Mickey Hart has also been pursuing a vision for a global orchestra. He's recently produced an album with Japanese Taiko drum troupe, KODO, and has released a best-of collection, TO THE EDGE AND BACK. On Mickey Hart's northern California estate, we walk his Zen gardens and talk about his percussion utopia.

(Originally broadcast May 2002)

Kodo is the world renowned Japanese Taiko drum ensemble that took the sacred drums out of the temples and onto the concert stage in wildy acrobatic performances. On a new album called MONDO HEAD (Red Ink), Kodo teams up with Grateful Dead/Planet Drum percussionist Mickey Hart to create a global percussion orchestra. Hart taps into the impressionistic side of Kodo, aligning them with master drummers like Zakir Hussain and Giovanni Hidalgo. Ryutaro Kaneko of Kodo, and Mickey Hart talk about their percussion garden.

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