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Kip Hanrahan: American Claveist

Kip Hanrahan

Bronx-raised Kip Hanrahan talks and talks and talks to me in a rapid-fire cadence as if he is trying to make up for lost time. This 51-year-old composer-bandleader-producer is excited because his American Clave label releases are now available in this country for the first time in over a decade, via a deal with Synergy Distribution.

This graying, messy-haired artist keeps yakking away to me in Starbucks for another reason. Ever since his wife got a professorial slot at George Mason University 11 years ago, he and his family have been living in the outer D.C. suburb of Reston, Va. Far from his New York City musical colleagues except when he heads up there to record, Hanrahan’s a stay-at-home musician-dad thrilled that he can open up about his two-plus decades’ worth of Latin, jazz, rock, blues and poetry projects with the likes of David Murray, vocalist Jack Bruce, Andy Gonzalez, Alan Toussaint, Milton Cardona, Charles Neville, writer Ishmael Reed and many more. Alternately humble, arrogant, pompous and down-to-earth, Hanrahan is always open and honest: “Yes,” he says, I can quote him as referring to Jack Bruce’s Cream bandmates Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker as “bozos.”

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