Artist: Will Calhoun
Not many artists have the vision and artistic energy to be Grammy winners and contribute to so many genres: jazz, rock, hip-hop, ambient, et al, while concurrently producing, touring, creating new projects, working on films, and continually pushing the envelope. Will Calhoun has this creative vision, and he is doing an extraordinary job keeping music a spiritual and motivating force in his life.
Will Calhoun graduated from the Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he received a Bachelors degree in Music Production and engineering. He was also the recipient of the prestigious Buddy Rich Jazz Masters Award for outstanding performance by a drummer.
Awards recognizing Will’s drumming virtuosity include:
• Best New Drummer by Modern Drummer Magazine’s Readers Poll
• Number One Progressive Drummer by Modern Drummer Magazine’s Readers Poll three times
• Best Drummer by Rolling Stone Magazine’s Critics Poll
Will Calhoun’s unique blend of improvisational and hard rock drumming can be found on each of Living Colour’s four Epic releases: the ground breaking multi-platinum debut, Vivid, the critically acclaimed sophomore LP, Time’s Up, the Biscuits EP, and Stain, as well as their release on Sanctuary Records, CollideØscope. A prolific song writer, Will has co-written many Living Colour compositions and wrote the critically acclaimed song, Pride, on the Time’s Up album and Nothingness on the Stain album. As a member of Living Colour, Will received a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance by a group and another Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. Living Colour also won an International Rock Award for Best Rock Band. For all you Living Colour fans, the band is touring again and working on new material. They have performed regional U.S. tour, as well as tours in South America, Australia and Europe over the past several years. Check the Tour Schedule page often for updates.
In addition to his work with Living Colour, Will has recorded and/or toured with diverse artists including B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Jaco Pastorious, Harry Belafonte, Pharoah Sanders, Jack Dejohnette, Paul Simon, Lou Reed, The Allman Brothers, Lauryn Hill, Marcus Miller, Dr.John, Carly Simon, Herb Alpert, Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood, Wayne Shorter (on the Grammy-winning CD “High Life”), Lauryn Hill, and recorded with rappers Run-DMC and Public Enemy. As a producer, player, and songwriter, Will has worked on Herb Alpert’s Grammy-nominated CD, Colors.
One of Will’s recent creations is his follow-up release on the Halfnote label: Native Lands. Native Lands can be described as Jazz meets World, meets trance-inducing Urban music. This is a double package – CD/DVD in which Calhoun marries his far reaching interests in a genre-bending collection that taps key expressionists from various backgrounds. Among those contributing are Pharoah Sanders, Mos Def, Buster Williams, Stanley Jordan, Kevin Eubanks, Marcus Miller and Wallace Roney, as well as Nana Vasconcelos from Brazil and Cheick Tidiane Seck from Mali. The album includes a DVD with over ninety minutes of music videos and documentary materials that chronicle the last ten years of Will’s life and travels.
Will’s first jazz CD as a bandleader is entitled The Will Calhoun Quintet: Live at the Blue Note (2000). The disc is an adventurous journey through Will’s approach to acoustic Jazz, World and Ambient music. The line-up features Bobby Watson-sax, Terrell Stafford-trumpet, John Benitez-bass and Orrin Evans-piano. Will’s song writing, arrangements and drumming on this CD are groundbreaking. Although this was Will’s first attempt at fronting a jazz group, Down Beat Magazine, Jazz Times, and BillBoard Magazine have given the CD top ratings. Drum Magazine’s readers poll voted Will’s CD 1st runner up for Drummer/Band leader.
Considering how active Living Colour has been of late, it’s surprising but impressive to see Calhoun release a third solo album. Life in This World, released in 2013, mixes the best elements of his previous two efforts, and its high-points qualify as some of the best work he’s yet done, with anyone. Once again he is surrounded by a significant cast of characters, such as Marc Cary (piano), Wallace Roney (trumpet), Charnett Moffett (bass); special appearances are made by Living Colour bandmate Doug Wimbish and über-legend Ron Carter. The album once again combines original compositions and standards. This time, Calhoun sets his sights on some of the best-loved classics in the jazz canon, including John Coltrane’s “Naima”, Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence” and Wayne Shorter’s “Etcetera”. Will’s trio (featuring Cary and Moffett) is now touring various venues and festivals world-wide, having already played Brazil, Colombia, and Morocco.
He has played in a staggering variety of styles and traditions over the course of his eclectic career. Straight-ahead jazz, fusion, traditional African percussion, funk, hip-hop, and of course hard rock — Calhoun has explored them all, and he traces the roots of all of them to one man: legendary drummer Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones’ sense of timing, polyrhythms, dynamics, timbre, and legato phrasing brought the drumset to the foreground of the jazz ensemble. Jones was touted by Life Magazine as “the world’s greatest rhythmic drummer”, and his free-flowing style was a major influence on many leading drummers who followed. Now Will Calhoun, one of the world’s top drummers today, has produced a new CD as homage, “Will Calhoun Celebrates the Music of Elvin Jones” (Motéma).
The Critics Write
“The Jimi Hendrix of drumming”
“Will Calhoun’s latest breakthrough jazz album, “Life In This World,” has it all. It deserves more than five stars. It deserves a Grammy.”
-Carol Banks Weber, Examiner.com
“Love it. Exactly the type of music I’m looking for-modern and rythmic.”
-Russ Davis-MOJA radio
“OMG. Shades of Miles Davis with today’s creativity.”
-“A highly inventive drummer with a terrific cast of musicians. We’ve been waiting for another leader release from him. It’s great to have this one.”
-Matt Fleeger-KMHD-Portland OR
“Calhoun possesses an explosive, hard-swinging style, heavily injected with West African influences similar to the style of the late Art Blakey.”
– San Diego County News