Welcome to Philadelphia Jazz Project
Dec 1, 2016
Philadelphia Rhythm Festival is a 3 day event featuring master classes, workshops and performances by nationally acclaimed performers. Hosted by Rittenhouse Soundworks from December 2-4, 2016, the event will highlight All forms of Rhythm: Drums, Percussion, Tap Dance, and Body Rhythm.
Rittenhouse SoundWorks is a state of the art, multi room facility located in the historic Germantown district of Philadelphia, with a mission to further the collaboration of all expressions of rhythm. This turn of the century building, originally built by Chrysler, can accommodate all of your tracking needs, from full orchestras to voiceovers. The studio is a beautiful combination of Digital and Analog solutions. It’s the perfect combination of old and new. The studio's staff includes; director, Jim Hamilton, Jim Albert and Peter Tramo.
Jim Hamilton is a Germantown-based musician, sound engineer, record producer, recording studio owner and entrepenuer. He has performed all over the world including performances at the Grammys, World Music Awards, MTV , BET and VH-1 Video Music Awards. He has worked with Boyz II Men, Gerald Alston, Toni Braxton, Paul Winter, Jamaladeen Tacuma, John Blake, Odean Pope, Zakir Hussain, Dom Um Romao, Marshall Allen, among others. As a drummer and percussionist, Jim Hamilton is also heavily involved in the percussion scene in Philadelphia. He was a co-founding member of The Spoken Hand Ensemble and Alo Brasil.
PJP spoke with Jim Hamilton about himself, Rittenhouse Soundworks and the upcoming Philadelphia Rhythm Festival.
PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?
Jim Hamilton: My approach is to fuse the "drum set" with percussion. To make the drum set a percussion instrument. It's about dialects now. Trying to Include all the world's voices. Not just the ones that speak English.
PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?
Jim Hamilton: So many artists really. Honi Coles, Lester Horton, Dom Um Romao, Airto Moreira, Marcos Suzano, Trilok Gurtu and many others like, Jack DeJohnette and Elvin Jones.
PJP: What is the Phila Rhythm festival about?
Jim Hamilton: The concept of The Philadelphia Rhythm Festival came out of need. A need for people to understand the role that rhythmic expression plays in our culture. Rhythmic expression is the connecting thread the sews the world together. Its not politics or trade agreements. Its rhythmic expression. All melody, of any type, comes from rhythm.
PJP: Who is taking part in it?
Jim Hamilton: This year we have Jason Samuals, Max Pollak, Glen Velez and Loire Cotler. These 4 artists have gone beyond the normal barriers of their particular disciplines and each have contributed to a deeper understanding of the world we live in.
PJP: Why is this theme/concept so important? Can you explain your process and the steps that led to this festival?
Jim Hamilton: Its important for us in the United States that we embrace the things that are uniquely ours. What are those things? One is our invention of the drum set. Where did that come from? It seems it came directly from our tap dance tradition. Tap is the reason we play drums with our feet. Why is this important? Because the only real difference between the types of music we innovated here is what the drummer or drum set artist plays. Mostly all modern music is defined by what the drum set artist plays and this simply would not have been possible had we not invented a way to play drums with our feet and hands simultaneously. Tap tradition belongs to drumming, not dance.
The first few generations of drum set players took everything they did directly from what tap dancers were doing with their feet. There was no other place to get it. Most of them, up through my generation, were, themselves, tap dancers. I have a recording of Baby Dodds, one of the first drum set artists ever recorded, talking about how he took all his ideas from Bill Robinson - the master tap dancer. This is a matter of record, but we don't teach this connection. It came from somewhere and that is our collective history. We need to own it.
PJP: When listening or participating in the festival what advice would you give the audience to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?
Jim Hamilton: There is a physical approach to rhythmic communication that each of these artists embody. Loire Cotler does it through singing rhythms, using a South Indian language called Konocol. Jason Samuals has taken the art of tap dancing to uncharted territory. Glen Velez created a whole new way of seeing our drumming traditions as a unified whole. Max Pollak has integrated his full body percussion approach and fused it into the rhythms of the diaspora.
As far as how to best "enjoy" the various performances go, I would say this. Art picks up where words leave off, so, It becomes a way of understanding, even when you don't speak the same language.
Philadelphia Rhythm Festival!
December 2-4, 2016
219 W. Rittenhouse St.
Philadelphia, PA 19144