Two CDs Feature Wesleyan Alumni Musicians

Talking Drums members and guest artists in 1988. From left: Wes Brown ’74, Kwabena Boateng, Rob Lancefield ’82 MA ’93 PhD ’05, Ophelia Tetteh, Peter Chipello '81, Freeman Kwadzo Donkor, Martin Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng, Leticia Ahima Driver, David Bindman ’85 MA ’87, royal hartigan MA ’83 PhD ’86, Abraham Adzenyah MA ’79 (Photo by John Giammatteo '81).

Some Day Catch Some Day Down and Sunset Park Polyphony, two CDs released recently and produced by Wesleyan alumni, showcase the cross-pollination of world music and jazz at Wesleyan across decades, and specific collaborations of Wesleyan graduates and faculty for more than 30 years. The albums also reflect Abraham Adzenyah’s long contribution to the Wesleyan community as a teacher of West African music, and his deep influence on generations of Wesleyan students who now make up a large number of alumni.

Talking Drums CD

Some Day Catch Some Day Down by Talking Drums (innova Recordings) was originally released in 1987 as an LP and was reissued along with mp3 bonus tracks in 2011. Most of the members of Talking Drums were Wesleyan faculty, alumni, or graduate students. Formed by Abraham Adzenyah and co-led by the late Wesleyan African dance teacher Freeman Kwadzo Donkor, Talking Drums traveled throughout New England and across the United States, performing original works that brought together African pop, traditional West African drumming/dance, and jazz. The CD captures the infectious dance grooves, traditional drumming, and jazz—veering into the avant-garde—that defined the group’s distinct sound, based on compositions by its members.

Among the musicians appearing on the album and/or the mp3 bonus tracks are: Abraham Adzenyah MA ’79, Maxwell Amoh MA ’84, David Bindman ’85, MA ’87, Wes Brown ’74, Peter Chipello ’81, Freeman Kwadzo Donkor, royal hartigan MA ’83, PhD ’86, Rob Lancefield ’82, MA ’93, PhD ’05, and Ben Manley ’83. Lancefield, who is manager of museum information services at Davison Art Center, produced the original LP and the current reissue.

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David Bindman Ensemble CD

Sunset Park Polyphony by the David Bindman Ensemble was released March 1 and is a narrative collection of saxophonist Bindman’s compositions performed by a six-member ensemble including Bindman, Wes Brown, and royal hartigan. Exploring rich layers of rhythmic and harmonic complexity and adapting elements from world music traditions, including West African rhythms and Indian modes and time cycles, the work is an outgrowth of studies at Wesleyan and of an enduring collaboration that began there three decades ago. Bindman, Brown, and hartigan perform with hartigan’s Blood Drum Spirit (Live in China CD, innova) in concerts and workshops around the world.

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David Low

David Low '76 writes about arts and culture for the Wesleyan magazine and Wesleyan Connection. He is associate director of publications in the Office of University Communications. He is also a published fiction writer. E-mail: