blood drum spirit

the royal hartigan ensemble live in china

innova 690


each time i visit china for performance and research, i am in awe of the long history and vast expanse of this unique area and people. the heritage of ancient temples, imperial palaces, mountains and lakes, and the great wall are equaled by the beauty and depth of life ways of more than 50 indigenous ethnic groups.


in traditional areas, intense meditation, unspoken ritual, and connections to ancestors reflect a world view that transcends our struggle for survival and lifeÕs upheavals.


in our tours throughout china - beijing, shenzhen, hangzhou, shanghai - as well as hong kong, we find people open to our music, responding in a personal way. playing traditional melodies such as this albumÕs flowing stream creates a connection with listeners that transcends cultural differences.


we hope you are moved by this music. our sounds come from our dreams, our imaginations, our blood, through our instruments as an african drum, to awaken spirits, as a woman told me one day as we played under the hot sun in ghana, Ôwe are one, may our spirits live forever.Õ


crisis in (nowÕs the) time16:42© 2003 david bindman     


a journey that encourages dialogue about the present world in which people are treated as economic animals, and lifeÕs elements seen as commodities in the 20th and 21st centuries, as opposed to the spiritual, creative, rational, emotional beings that we are.


the pieceÕs multiple sections highlight diverse styles within a 15/8 time cycle, transformed through a 7 1/2 swing feel, a funk groove over three 5/8 phrases, and a 5/dotted-quarter triple-feel west african sound. the drum solo, largely without time, includes phrasing from west african hand drumming, javanese gamelan kendhang ciblon sekaran drum patterns, and south indian solkattu rhythmic vocables. a coda includes rhythms adapted from the akpese recreational music of the eùe people of west africa.



flowing stream/goodbye pork pie hat8:32flowing stream, traditional,

© the people of yunnan, china; goodbye pork pie hat © 1959 charles mingus; arrangement © 2004 hafez modirzadeh


this chinese love song from yunnan province is connected to charles mingusÕ blues requiem for saxophonist lester young. our performance is inspired by the chinese people, and evokes a strong response from audiences throughout this vast land. the song speaks of missing oneÕs lover while seeing a bright moon shining over a mountain and pure water flowing in a stream down its slopes, asking Ômy beloved, can you hear me?Õ the longing of a heart through the stream of life.


threads10:15 ©1999 david bindman


the title refers to musical and personal ties that hold us together as humans, through joy, grief, and the passage of time. this suite features themes and solos in different styles over the 11/8 time cycle in a duple feel, divided as 2 2 2 2 3: gospel (piano), reggae (contrabass), and bebop/swing (saxophone and drums).


in a sentimental mood7:57© 1935 duke ellington


a personal approach to mr. ellingtonÕs great ballad, direct from the heart. in august 1965, his orchestra was performing with the boston symphony orchestra at tanglewood in lenox, massachusetts. i was playing solo piano in a lounge at the holiday inn where his ensemble stayed, and his band members walked in. playing for these great artists, i was immediately self-conscious, yet they encouraged me. when i met mr. ellington in the hallway, dressed in an elegant tuxedo and red carnation in his lapel, i nervously asked if i could shake his hand, telling him it was an honor to meet someone so great. he broke my shyness by firmly taking my hand and responding that i was special and that everyone is unique, speaking to me as if he had known me all his life. his humility and openness toward me taught me a lesson i have kept.


a night in tunisia               7:38© 1942 john birks dizzy gillespie/frank paparelli; arrangement © 1999 royal hartigan


i arranged mr. gillespieÕs classic in a fast 7/8 meter, felt as 3 1/2 beats. it is inspired by the dance and hand drumming of west asia and north africa, and parallels the turkish usul (time cycles) such as devri hindi (Ôindia cycleÕ), traditionally played in 7 pulses on the bendir frame drum. the themeÕs aaba form with interlude alternates between afro-cuban rumba (a) and swing (b, interlude), both cast in 7. after the bass introduction and theme, the saxophone solo is played on the form, followed by a piano montuno first alone, then with drums. the final theme is played rubato by saxophone over the 7/8 montuno.



song for your return4:12© 2006 david bindman


a composition that juxtaposes melodic lines, chord shapes, and a short form with non-metrical time. as the title suggests, it is about both longing and the hope of anticipated return.


dreamfireswaking/invitation21:35dreamfireswaking © 2004 royal hartigan; invitation © 1952 bronislau caper; arrangement © 2004 royal hartigan


this arrangement is inspired by the frailty of humanity, the seemingly small circumstantial things that can elevate us to the heavens or pull us downward, what william shakespeare referred to as Ôunaccommodated man.Õ by those not seen beyond the veil of societyÕs light, desireÕs gaze, or fateÕs smile. ours is a dream and an invitation to another place and time, where unaccommodated woman and man will fly through the light, and be alone never more.


the arrangement begins and ends with drum solos, ensemble vamp, and descending harmonies, symbolizing dreams, waking, and fires of change. after the opening, a timeless interlude evolves into the invitation theme played first rubato, then in time, over 11/8 swing, felt as 5 1/2 duple beats, 2 2 2 2 3. a repeated closing figure with hits that is the basis for the drum solos leads to a vamp in a triple feel, with the 11 felt as 3 3 3 2. this groove is the foundation for the piano solo, with a west african sound over the vamp, interlude sequence, and later, the invitation form, which moves into a swing feel, still in a 3 3 3 2 beat division pattern. the saxophone solo begins as a duet with drums in an 11/8 duple adaptation of afro-cuban rumba, then proceeds through a rubato interlude sequence to swing over the invitation form and closing figure, all in a duple feel whose beat division is 2 2 2 2 3. as with the first half of the opening theme, david, wes, and art move through the chord changes of the invitation form freely over the bassÕ and drumsÕ 11/8 swing, and gradually bring the harmonic rhythm back to coincide with the length of its melody and form. the closing theme leads to a second drum solo, and like the intro, is followed by a triple feel 3 3 3 2 vamp and ending.



anlo kete22:00              © the eve people of west africa, arrangement © 2005 royal hartigan


this music is derived from the anlo kete social dance drumming of the eve people of ghana and togo. for part of most summers i and my students live in ghanaian villages and learn dance, drumming, songs, and life ways from the people.  despite the physical ravages of economic, political, and cultural exploitation, their personal openness and spirituality transcend the third world genocide they experience daily. this powerful force of the heart is expressed through the arts, especially music and dance.


many of the drumset rhythms i play are adapted anlo kete instrumental voices: atsimeùu lead drum phrases and calls and kaga÷, kidi, and sogo basic support drum patterns and responses. the low, medium, and high atsimeùu tones reflect the tonal eùe language and are brought to bass drum, toms, and snare. the ga÷kogui bell timeline is played on cymbal, floor tom shell, and as high-pitched snare rim shots. davidÕs, artÕs, and wesÕ immersion in african music enables them to hear and take part in the traditional dialogues.


the two eve and third original themes are framed by atsimeùu phrases on drumset over the 12/8 groove, which leads to a piano solo, beginning with ensemble hits. during the piano solo traditional kaga÷, kidi, and sogo patterns are played on toms, bass drum, and open high hat, joined by the ga÷kogui timeline on snare drum rim. a bass-drumset dialogue follows, with wes in conversation with traditional a÷l¿ kete drum phrases over background saxophone-piano sonorities. david begins the saxophone solo interacting with rhythms from traditional dagbamba music from northern ghana, adapted to bass drum, high hat, and the wooden, double-headed, hourglass-shaped, string-tension luna drum. his solo moves to an a capella section without time. wes joins the conversation followed by drumset in time around traditional eùe rhythms. ensemble hits under the solo lead to a restatement of the first theme, extended into a coda that is completed with atsimeùu ending patterns on drumset over horn-piano harmonies.



peace, unknown7:37© 2002 art hirahara 


this piece was written as a lament for those killed in the ongoing israeli/palestinian conflict. since its composition, thousands of innocents have been killed in this unequal balance of power, with no end in sight, a seemingly unending conflict, where decency, empathy, and humanity appear to be irrevocably lost.



gati shadows within8:08© 2001 royal hartigan


this is an original drumset adaptation of traditional south indian solkattu rhythmic vocables. my teachers, tanjore ranganathan and ramnad raghavan, masters of the south indian cylindrical double-headed mridangam drum, encouraged me to bring these sounds and concepts to drumset. gati is a term for the internal pulse subdivisions of main beats of the tala (time cycle). traditionally there are beat divisions into 2, 3 (tisra), 4 (caturasra), 5 (khanda), 6, 7 (misra), 8, and 9 (sankirna). 2, 6, and 8 are multiples or divisives of 4 or 3. my solo develops from gati of 2 through 9 pulses per beat, and returns back in the opposite order, from 9 to 2 pulses per beat. i play changing sounds with my hands on toms, cymbals, and snare drum with snares released. the statements are framed in a slow 7-beat time cycle, itself divided as 4 plus 3, marked by bass drum on beats 1, 3, and 5, and high hat on 2, 4, 6, and 7.


rather than a technical exercise, my handsÕ playing over the bass drum-high hat time cycle expresses the human dance through the time cycles of millennia, centuries, a lifetime, years, seasons, months, days, hours, minutes, an instant, or eternity. for me it is the loneliness of living in, and dreams about, dark places with unknown shadows in the long cold night of life without my mother and father, hazel gay- and james hartigan, without a known god, and without meaning.


high definition truth15:15 © 2005 david bindman


the title reflects skepticism about the official ÔtruthsÕ promoted by neocolonial history, governments, multinational corporations, and their media servants. this composition calls for a vision of the world that is life-affirming, sustainable, and just.


a prologue initiated by snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals in a fast 7/8 time felt as 3 1/2 beats (2 2 3) suggests a spanish/mediterranean/north african sensibility. on a piano cue, the theme is stated in 5 parts. the saxophone solo begins in duet with piano without time and moves through the pieceÕs form in a fast 7/8 swing, then a funk groove over three 7/8 cycles. the piano solo begins in a 7/8 funk, modulates to a 7/dotted quarter-triple feel, first in a west african sound, then swing. art goes into an unaccompanied improvisation without time, leading to his cue for the theme, which gradually retards into an epilogue mirroring the prologue.


oleo6:11© 1954 sonny rollins  


we pay homage to the african american jazz heritage with sonny rollinsÕ bebop standard. i have childhood memories of my mother, hazel gay-hartigan, and uncle, ray hart, tap dancing to the sounds of bebop and swing in the 1950s.



hazel clark2:27© 1999 david bindman


davidÕs saxophone solo based on one he played for my motherÕs funeral at the funeral home, saint charlesÕ church, and in saint josephÕs cemetery, pittsfield, massachusetts, 17 may 1999. hazel clark gay hartigan danced through life with a boundless spirit and unconditional love.



asante adowa1:12© the asante people of west africa; drumset arrangement ©1992 royal hartigan


my ghanaian teachers and friends, kobena adzenyah, kwabena boateng, abena mensah, kwaakye obeng, along with scott kessel and david bindman, played this funeral dance drumming of the asante people of ghana, west africa, at my motherÕs gravesite funeral. i adapt a small part of its rhythms here, the dawuro bell timeline on cymbal bell, ntrowa rattle phrase on high hat, petia stick drum pattern on bass drum, and the luna hourglass drum, petia dialogue, and apentemma hand drum phrases on toms and snareless snare. a remembrance for all our ancestors.



generations suite              14:11


owlsÕ nightmare2:00© 2006 art hirahara and royal hartigan


a piano-percussion expression of the horrors many elderly endure - alone, lost, afraid - when they cannot take care of themselves, yet still have memories, heart, and the need to be loved. many are warehoused in nursing homes that can seem like prisons, in the midst of the materially richest society on the planet, whose focus is on markets for the next youthful Ôpepsi/mtv/techno generation.Õ 


weÕll be together again3:16© 1945 carl fischer / frankie laine


art renders this timeless ballad with my brush accompaniment as a remembrance and call to departed loved ones in all our lives.


tenderly8:55© 1946 walter lloyd gross; arrangement © 2000 royal hartigan


my arrangement rekindles the connections we have with our departed ancestors and friends, overcoming pain and separation with the joy of a hopeful reunification in another place. a prologue and epilogue centered on cymbal eighth-note motives in a 5 5 7 7 sequence frame the theme and solos, which are marked by rhythmic combinations derived from this original pattern.


we honor the human spirit in all those who are left out, alone, lost in the empty corridors of life. that we may dance again with spirits deep, sing the whole way through, laugh at lifeÕs old ills, and love each other true. as we awaken together in the eveningÕs midnight sun, we are one, forever, tenderly.


david bindman, tenor saxophone

wes brown, contrabass

art hirahara, piano

royal hartigan, drumset and dagbamba luna drum



produced by royal hartigan









special thanks to weihua zhang, jon campbell, leon lee, and zhen liu for logistics,

arrangements, interpreting, and heartfelt support


recording 6-9 may 2006 at the midi school studios, beijing, china


recording engineers lorenz kirchner assisted by xie ming







editing and mixing by jon rosenberg at the corner store, brooklyn, new york,

july 2006 and january 2007

[email protected]


mastering by sean flynn in albany, new york, january 2008


photography by weihua zhang, andrew nozaka, ziddi msangi, wes brown, art hirahara,

li tienan, thinking hands, and the dashanzi international arts festival

chinese calligraphy by chung-ho chang






artwork and design © 2008 andrew bourne and lindsay amaral-schwer

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david bindman plays selmer saxophones


royal hartigan plays sonor drums, remo heads, vic firth sticks, brushes, and mallets,

and istanbul/agop, k zildian, and paiste cymbals.


publishing credits -

david bindmandavid bindman publishing/bmi

art hirahara araharih music/ascap

royal hartigan     royal hartigan music/bmi


contact information

royal hartigan

[email protected]

(508) 999-8572