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Babatunde Olatunji

Babatunde Olatunji

Although he was forced to abandon his Olatunji Center (the site of John Coltrane’s last public perform-ance in May of 1967) in 1988, Nigeria-born percussion master Babatunde Olatunji continues to spread the gospel of Africa and its varied contributions to world culture. Today Olatunji conducts clinics and workshops at such enlightened enclaves as the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. “I’ve been going to those places for 15 years,” he says, “but I’m never doing anything here in this big city.”

Olatunji’s other means of reaching people with his positive message is through recordings. His latest offering, Love Drum Talk (Chesky), is a powerfully infectious meditation on the nature of indiscriminant love that grooves as it teaches. Recorded using 24-bit technology, Love Drum Talk is part of a continuum that began in 1959 with Olatunji’s landmark Drums Of Passion, a seminal world beat recording that has sold millions over the years. Like many of his classic recordings, Love Drum Talk attempts to emphasize the positive aspects of humanity by focusing on what people have in common.

“Take a look at what is happening in our society,” he says. “People are emphasizing the negative. The movies are not teaching anything about reverence for life, respect for elders. They preach pure violence. This is what prevails on TV as well. Whereas, we can be using the new discoveries, the new inventions to really increase the quality of human behavior. And when you emphasize the positive aspect of a person, that’s what will prevail.

“Music has to have a message,” he continues. “It has to have some kind of inspiration, it has to be encouraging and tantalizing. I play my music so that people can jump up for joy and dance, so people can feel better and they can really put their problems aside, turn a new page and have a new lease on life. This is healing music.”

He delivers the cure once again with Love Drum Talk.

Originally Published